Ukraine-Russia Ceasefire Negotiations: Chapter IV
This article looks at the fourth chapter of ceasefire negotiations between Russia and Ukraine that occurred from July 2022 to August 2022. For the latest on the ceasefire negotiations, see the running tracker here. Read about Chapter I, Chapter II, and Chapter III.
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Chapter IV Summary: With the specter of global food crisis looming, both Russian and Ukrainian vied for control of Ukraine's eastern territories. Negotiations over prisoner exchanges and remains repatriation slowed, but the United Nations and Turkey stepped up their efforts to find a way to enable grain exports through the Black Sea. Through a series of bilateral engagements, the two entities were able to get the Russian and Ukrainian governments to agree to the "Black Sea Grain Initiative," a package of agreements that established a Joint Coordination Centre in Istanbul and outlined the provisions necessary to allow commercial vessels to pass through the Black Sea. This chapter ended with the proven success of the Initiative, which gave hope for possible advancement of negotiations in other areas.
Ukrainian Presidential adviser and negotiator Mikhail Podolyak responds to Dmitry Peskov’s comments on returning to the negotiating table by reiterating the Ukraine side’s core interests: “Ceasefire. Z-troops withdrawal. Returning of kidnapped citizens. Extradition of war criminals. Reparations mechanism. [Ukrainian] sovereign rights recognition.”
Russian occupation authorities install a new government in Kherson Oblast composed of Russian officials and hand-picked Kherson residents. Deputy head of the occupation administration Kirill Stremousov expresses, “The fact that the government includes not only Kherson region residents but also Russian managers clearly indicates the direction of the Kherson region’s future--this direction is toward Russia. Ukraine is the past of the Kherson region. Russia is here forever.” The government is set to be installed on 5 July.
Kherson Oblast (in lighter shade) has become a key objective for Russia in securing a land bridge to Crimea
The “Ukraine Recovery Conference” concludes in Lugano, Switzerland. The two-day conference focused on the principles and priorities for rebuilding Ukraine and featured representatives from dozens of countries and international organizations. At the conference, Ukrainian officials presented a proposed roadmap for recovery, which called for $750 billion in reconstruction assistance by 2032, among other things. During the conference, Ukraine signed assistance agreements worth $1.9 billion.
In a conference call with domestic media outlets, Russian Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu explains that Russia is taking steps to ensure civilian shipping from Ukrainian ports. He states, “We have set up two humanitarian corridors for the shipping of civilian sea-going vessels. The mine danger in the waters of the port of Mariupol has been completely removed.”
Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan offers his perspective on the state of negotiations vis-a-vis civilian shipping from Ukraine, expressing his intent on facilitating a near-term solution. He states, “The corridor in the Black Sea is a very important issue, in which the approaches of [Presidents of Russia and Ukraine Vladimir] Putin and [Vladimir] Zelensky are very important. We continue our negotiations and we want this process to continue under the auspices of the UN as a mediator. We will intensify our negotiations and try to achieve a result within 7-10 days.”
Sweden and Finland sign the accession protocols to join the NATO alliance. They will now be able to participate inside NATO as a non-voting member until other members’ home governments ratify the expansion of treaty obligations.
During a question session in the German Bundestag (lower house of parliament), Chancellor Olaf Scholz asserts that Ukraine will not fall under NATO defense commitments. He explains that while his administration is in talks for security guarantees for Ukraine, they “won’t correspond to Article 5 of the NATO Treaty.” Several countries including NATO members Germany, Italy, Turkey, the United Kingdom, and the United States are in negotiations with Ukrainian officials on postwar security guarantees, and Ukrainian officials have stated that they insist on ratified bi- or multi-lateral agreements.
The port authority in occupied Mariupol announces that the port has been restored to full-fledged operability. The once-besieged city rests in a strategic location for Russian forces and is a key objective in the Ukrainian counter-offensive.
President of the European Commission Ursula von der Leyen announces that the European Union is examining options for seizing and liquidating frozen Russian assets to use in Ukraine’s reconstruction effort. She states, “I think it is a matter of justice to consider this issue. We are working on the legal framework so that the assets of Russia and partly the assets of oligarchs can be used to restore Ukraine.”
Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlüt Çavuşoğlu meets Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov on the sidelines of the G-20 Foreign Ministerial meeting in Bali. The two discuss the war in Ukraine and the issue of food security. Turkey has been actively working to facilitate an agreement on maritime corridors through the Black and Azov Seas.
Mevlüt Çavuşoğlu and Sergei Lavrov meeting on the sidelines of the G-20 Foreign Ministerial meeting in Bali, 7 July 2022 (photo via Twitter @mevlutcavusoglu)
In a meeting with leaders of the Russian Duma (parliament), Vladimir Putin asserts that Ukraine should accept Russia’s terms for ending hostilities or prepare for the worst. He states, “We are hearing these days that they want to defeat us on the battlefield. What can you say? Let them try.” Putin accuses Ukraine’s partners of perpetuating the conflict, saying, “The West wants to fight us until the last Ukrainian…It’s a tragedy for the Ukrainian people, but it looks like it’s heading in that direction…Everybody should know that largely speaking, we haven’t even yet started anything in earnest.” Putin notes that Russia remains ready to return to the negotiating table and cautions those who refuse to do so: “We aren’t giving up on peace talks but those who decline to talk should know that the longer they do so, the harder it will be to come to an agreement with us.”
Deputy Prime Minister and Minister for the Reintegration of Temporarily Occupied Territories Iryna Vereshchuk chairs a special meeting on internally displaced persons (IDPs). Ukrainian officials are facing the problem of temporary housing, noting that the problem ultimately comes down to funding and that they will be looking for international donors.
Russian authorities release the 16-year-old son of Oleh Buryak, the head of the Zaporizhzhia District State Administration. A grassroots campaign “Save Vlad Buryak” announces the release but provides no additional details. The boy was kidnapped on 8 April at a Russian-imposed checkpoint in occupied Vasylivka (Zaporizhzhia Oblast).
Turkish authorities release the Russian-flagged Zhibek Zholy from Karasu port. Ukrainian officials express dismay at Turkey’s decision, as they claim that the vessel was loaded with stolen Ukrainian grain. Spokesperson for Ukraine’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs Oleg Nikolenko asserts that they intend to recall the Turkish Ambassador in Kyiv to discuss the matter.
Russia delivers farming equipment to the breakaway Donetsk People’s Republic and Luhansk People’s Republic. Denis Pushilin, the leader of the DPR, asserts that residents will have nearly 93,000 hectares of additional land to harvest in areas “liberated” by Russian forces. These announcements come as Ukraine, Russia, Turkey, and the United Nations negotiate the terms for ensuring grain and fertilizer exports.
The parliament of the breakaway Donetsk People’s Republic abolishes its moratorium on executions, citing that "the option to use capital punishment will serve as a deterrent against very grave crimes." On 9 June, the DPR issued death sentences to three foreign fighters (two from the United Kingdom and one from Morocco).
Ukrainian Presidential Advisor and negotiator Mikhail Podolyak responds to Vladimir Putin’s warnings. He states, “37,000 dead Russian soldiers. Total sanitary losses of 98-117 thousand people. 10 generals were eliminated. 1605 tanks, 405 planes/helicopters were turned into scrap. Has Russia not started fighting yet? Is Kremlin considering war only by Stalin's mathematics - 20 million losses?”
President Volodymyr Zelensky conducts a large personnel shake-up. He dismisses the Ukrainian ambassadors to Bangladesh, Czech Republic, Germany, Hungary, India, the Maldives, Nepal, Norway, and Sri Lanka (nine in total). Zelensky also replaces the governor of Russian-occupied Kherson Oblast.
The Ukrainian Ministry of Foreign Affairs responds to accusations of corruption by Ukrainian-born U.S. Congressperson Victoria Spartz. On 8 July, Spartz submitted a letter to the White House requesting an inquiry into the dealings of Head of the Ukrainian Presidential Office (and lead negotiator for Ukraine’s postwar security guarantees) Andriy Yermak and Yermak’s Deputy for Law Enforcement Oleg Tartarov. Yermak is accused of leaking information to Belarus on a Ukrainian operation to capture Russian mercenaries and sabotaging the defense of Kherson Oblast during the Russian invasion. Meanwhile, Tartarov is accused of accepting bribes. In response, the Ukrainian Foreign Ministry states the following:
Ukraine is deeply grateful to the United States of America for its steadfast support in countering Russia's aggression…Against this background of large-scale support, the recent actions and statements of the member of the U.S. Congress, Victoria Spartz, stand out. They are an undisguised attempt to return to American politics the classic narratives of Russian propaganda about alleged connections between the leadership of Ukraine and Russia and to involve our state in the domestic politics of the United States. We advise Mrs. Spartz to stop trying to earn additional political capital on baseless speculations surrounding the topic of the war in our country and the grief of Ukrainians. The manipulations about Ukraine and its leadership by congresswomen of Ukrainian origin are especially cynical.
Russian Deputy (parliamentarian) and negotiator Leonid Slutsky leads a delegation to Luhansk to meet with leaders of the breakaway "Luhansk People's Republic." Slutsky reports that the delegation brought humanitarian cargo including medical equipment, medicines, and office equipment.
Leonid Slutsky and other Russian parliamentarians engage with leaders of the breakaway Luhansk People's Republic, 9 July 2022 (photo via Leonid Slutsky)
Russian officials and Ukrainian separatist authorities comment on holding referenda on joining Russia. Denis Miroshnichenko, chairman of the breakaway Luhansk People's Republic's legislature, states that it is premature to hold a referendum while hostilities are on-going. Meanwhile, Russian parliamentarian and negotiator Leonid Slutsky opines that all the occupied territories should hold their respective referenda at the same time, noting the following:
The people of the Lugansk republic and no one else should determine the need for a referendum [on joining Russia] and the time of possibly holding it...This is a sovereign decision of a sovereign country, it may be made in the near future, if you ask for my personal point of view...When that could be? I will express my purely personal point of view that, probably, if other regions liberated from Nazism want to hold a referendum on the future of their territory, their republic, then it would make sense to do this together, jointly.
Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan speaks with both Vladimir Putin and Volodymyr Zelensky in separate phone calls. In both calls, Erdogan focused on opening up maritime corridors for transport of Ukrainian grain through the Black Sea as well as restarting ceasefire negotiations to achieve a "lasting and fair settlement." He offers to facilitate those negotiations via the “Istanbul Process.” [Note: Turkey hosted the “Istanbul Round” of negotiations and the Ukraine-Russia Foreign Ministerial talks in Antalya in March.]
Vladimir Putin signs a decree that simplifies the process for all Ukrainians to gain Russian citizenship. The decree declares “that citizens of Ukraine, Donetsk People’s Republic (DPR) or Lugansk People’s Republic (LPR) and people without citizenship permanently living in DPR, LPR or Ukraine…are entitled to appeal for admission to citizenship of the Russian Federation via simplified procedure in accordance with the…law ‘On citizenship of the Russian Federation.” The previous version of the decree only applied to residents of the breakaway DPR, LPR and occupied areas of Kherson and Zaporizhzhia.
The Ukrainian Navy announces that the first eight foreign vessels have arrived at Ukrainian ports via the Danube-Black Sea canal and with Ukrainian naval escort. These vessels are set to transport Ukrainian grain. A statement from the Navy reads, "At the request of the Ministry of Infrastructure, the Naval Forces of the Armed Forces of Ukraine joined the effort to ensure transportation of agricultural products by civilian ships through the Bystre mouth of the Danube-Black Sea channel." The statement goes on to note that this transit was made possible by the liberation of Snake Island.
Donetsk Oblast Governor Pavlo Kyrylenko announces that 80% of Ukrainian civilians have been evacuated from the province since 24 February. Meanwhile, Aide to the Interior Minister of the breakaway Luhansk People's Republic Vitaly Kiselyov claims that Ukrainian forces are forcibly deporting residents of the "Donetsk People's Republic." He states, "A mass evacuation is underway in the cities of Slavyansk, Kramatorsk, Seversk, Soledar and Artemovsk...Ukrainian volunteers, together with Ukraine’s National Police, are trying to forcibly move civilians to the country’s western regions. They are saying that the Russian army is about to launch a major offensive."
Vladimir Putin holds telephone talks with Alexander Lukashenko. Among other things, the two discuss Lithuania's "blockade" of transit to Kaliningrad. The Kremlin readout of the talks notes, "Emphasis was placed on the situation relating to the illegal restrictions imposed by Lithuania on the transit of goods to the Kaliningrad Region. In this context, some possible joint steps were discussed."
Ukrainian and Russian forces conduct another remains repatriation, this time in Zaporizhzhia. The bodies of 30 Ukrainian soldiers are exchanged for an undisclosed number of Russian remains. Oleg Kotenko, Ukraine's Commissioner for Missing Persons, notes that the process for remains repatriation is taking place in accordance with the Geneva Protocols.
Head of Ukraine's Political Office Andriy Yermak announces that negotiations on establishment of maritime corridors will begin in Istanbul on 13 July. There will first be a meeting between Ukrainian and Turkish representatives, followed by an extended meeting between Ukraine, Turkey, the UN and Russia. Yermak notes:
Unblocking Ukrainian ports is one of the key components of global food security. We need to do this as soon as possible. We believe that the issue of unblocking the export of Ukrainian grain should be resolved under the auspices of the UN. Secretary-General António Guterres is involved in this process, and we are grateful to him for this.
The spokesperson for the European Commission informs Russian media that it is not in talks with the Russian government over transit to Kaliningrad: "We have nothing to add on the situation around the transit of Russian goods to Kaliningrad. We normally do not comment on reports in mass media but we can say that no direct negotiations are being held in Russia on this topic."
Representatives from Ukraine, Russia, Türkiye, and the United Nations meet in Istanbul to negotiate maritime corridors in the Black Sea. Although hosted by Turkish military officials, the Russian and Ukrainian delegations are principally civilian and included Rustem Umerov, who had been involved in the original cease-fire negotiations on the Ukraine side. The meeting lasts about an hour and a half, with Turkish Defense Minister Hulusi Akar claiming that the participants found common ground on technical issues including safety provisions, transit corridors, and joint controls for entry and exit of ports. Akar notes that the Ukrainian and Russian delegations are set to reconvene in Türkiye next week to finalize negotiations and conclude an agreement on the maritime corridors. Meanwhile, Rustem Umerov announces that the four parties agreed to establish a Coordination Center to monitor and coordinate safe navigation in the Black Sea.
Delegations from Ukraine, Russia, Türkiye, and the United Nations meet in Istanbul, 13 July 2022 (photo via the Turkish Ministry of Defense)
Presidential Advisor and negotiator Mikhail Podolyak claims that Russia has forcibly deported 1.6 million Ukrainians, including 260,000 children. He notes that ending the war is not simply a matter of 'giving up land for the sake of peace'.
Russian forces execute a missile strikes against civilian infrastructure in Vinnytsia (Vinnytsia Oblast). The Ukrainian Ministry of the Interior reports that the attack killed 23, hospitalized 71, and left 18 missing. Deputy Prime Minister Iryna Vereshchuk denounces the attack and calls for partners to furnish missile defense systems:
The Vinnytsia tragedy today is yet another confirmation that Russia wages two wars against us: firstly, the conventional war, and secondly, the missile war against the civilians–the missile terrorism. The systematic and massive missile attacks against the civilian population in urban areas is new in the history of terror, but that is harsh reality.
We need the western missile defense systems. I am sure that the West should provide these sooner or later. But we need them now. Only the modern western missile defense systems would let us reliably protect the urban civilian population.
Our western friends often ask me: how can we help Ukraine? I say again: missile defense systems! I realize that it is costly and politically difficult. But there is no other way. If you don't protect the sky above our cities, you will have to protect the sky above your cities. That is harsh reality too.
The Ukraine Accountability Conference takes place in the Hague, Netherlands. The purpose of this ministerial-level conference is to lay the groundwork for collective action in response to international crimes committed in Russia’s war against Ukraine. Participants published a “Political Declaration” and included delegates from the following countries: Albania, Australia, Austria, Belgium, Colombia, Bosnia Herzegovina, Bulgaria, Canada, Costa Rica, Croatia, Cyprus, Czechia, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, France, Germany, Georgia, Greece, Iceland, Ireland, Italy, Liechtenstein, Latvia, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Malta, Mexico, Marshall Islands, Montenegro, New Zealand, North Macedonia, the Netherlands, Norway, Poland, Portugal, Romania, Slovakia, Slovenia, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, Ukraine, United Kingdom, and the United States.
Volodymyr Zelensky addresses the Ukraine Accountability Conference, 14 July 2022 (photo via the Dutch Ministry of Foreign Affairs)
The Main Directorate of Intelligence of Ukraine's Ministry of Defense issues a warning to Ukrainians publishing information online about their colleagues, friends, and loved ones in Russian captivity. The Directorate suggests that the information being posted is having negative effects on the negotiations aimed at securing prisoner exchanges. The statement notes the following:
Remember: the distribution of detailed information about a specific person who is in captivity can complicate the exchange process and pose a danger to the captive himself. Information about the importance of a person, his political views, place of service, previous work, relatives and friends provokes a meticulous attitude of the enemy. As a result, the requirements for the exchange of a specific person can be overestimated, and the process itself is maximally complicated. We draw your attention to the fact that the dissemination of information about the callsigns, the military unit, the place of deployment of the unit, the circumstances of being captured poses a threat not only to the prisoner himself, but to his comrades-in-arms and the unit. Ukraine is doing everything possible to ensure that each of our defenders returns home.
Paul Urey, a UK-born soldier fighting for Ukraine’s armed forces, dies in detention in the breakaway Donetsk People’s Republic. Urey was not one of the UK citizens sentenced to death by the DPR–rather, DPR officials claim that he died due to stress and illness. The DPR's Foreign Minister Natalia Nikonorova asserts that Urey was a mercenary and therefore not afforded the same protections under the Geneva protocols as lawful combatants: “It looks like mercenary activities, i.e. he was unlikely seconded by the UK official authorities. So, he is a mercenary and it means he was a man, who, under the Geneva conventions, in particular under the additional protocol, did not enjoy the status of a combatant. Hence, he cannot be a prisoner of war, i.e. he cannot enjoy this status. He is to be convicted under the national legislation, i.e. laws of the Donetsk People’s Republic where he was captured by a conflicting party he was fighting against.”
Russian Deputy and negotiator Leonid Slutsky draws a clear distinction between negotiations over grain shipments and ceasefire negotiations. Although Russia and Ukraine appear set to conclude an agreement on maritime corridors next week, Slutsky asserts that negotiations on a ceasefire remain far off: "Hideous atrocities are being committed, including against our prisoners of war. This is what must be changed, rather than talks on grain in Istanbul. I don’t rule out that they will ultimately have common sense but today they have none…Today, our so to say partners, but, in other words, opponents in Kiev want to fight. It is unreasonably, it is incomprehensible, it is perversive from a normal point of view…They are encouraged by the collective West…They are set for antagonism. They continue to hold nationalist positions."
Head of the Myokolayiv Regional Military Administration Vitaliy Kim announces that Russian forces executed at least 10 missile strikes against multiple targets in Mykolayiv, including two universities.
Footage of missile strikes against Mykolayiv, 15 July 2022 (photo via Twitter @Vitaliyj_Kim)
Russian occupation authorities in Zaporizhzhia issue a new decree outlawing opposition to Russian administration. Head of the “regional military-civilian administration” Yevgeny Balitsky signed the decree, which bans any activities “discrediting Russian bodies of authority, Russia’s foreign policy, Russian Armed Forces and the military-civilian administration, as well as dissemination of knowingly false information about actions of the Russian Federation or the Zaporizhzhia Region that pose a threat to stability, propaganda or justification of terrorism, including terror actions of nationalist militias." Russian forces currently occupy about 70% of Zaporizhzhia Oblast.
Volodymyr Zelensky removes Prosecutor General Iryna Venediktova and chief of the Ukrainian Security Service (SBU) Ivan Bakanov, citing failures in administration of their respective offices. In his nightly address, Zelensky explains that 651 criminal proceedings have been registered related to high treason and collaborative activities involving employees of the prosecutor’s offices, pretrial investigation bodies, and other law enforcement agencies. He notes that more than 60 employees of the prosecutor’s office and the SBU remained in occupied territories to work against the state.
Deputy Chairman of Russia's Security Council Dmitry Medvedev offers yet another casus belli to justify Russia’s war against Ukraine. In a speech to World War II veterans, he explains that the “special military operation” is preventative action meant to eliminate threats against Russia:
This decision is in full compliance with the rules and principles of the United Nations Charter. Bearing in mind that each country has the right to self-defense…a state has the right to preventive self-defense. And this should be borne in mind…It is not a mere response to someone’s hostile actions, but it is a preventive measure to neutralize a military threat. And this military threat, regrettably for our country, originated from a former part of our common state, which is especially tragic and sad for us. Well, we know that the Ukrainians are no enemies to us. But those people who have power there, the nationalist circles…they are a real threat to our security.
Russian Foreign Ministry Spokeswoman Maria Zakharova states that the UK government ignored invitations to negotiate the release of a British fighter from detention in the breakaway Donetsk People's Republic. According to Zakharova, Russian diplomats had made overtures that release might be possible if UK authorities negotiated directly with officials from the DPR: "We had repeatedly pointed out to the British that Paul Urey’s fate should be discussed with the authorities of the DPR, a sovereign and independent state. However, London ignored that, particularly paying no attention to the possibility of talks on the British national’s return home through a prisoner swap."
Ukrainian MP and negotiator Rustem Umerov announces that Ukraine is succeeding in finding alternative methods of shipping goods out of the country. He notes that exports increased from 350,000 tons in March to more than 2.1 million tons in June, but that 4 to 5 million tons of exports is the target to prevent instability in food security.
Ukrainian Presidential Advisor and negotiator Mikhail Podolyak responds to comments made by former Supreme Allied Commander Europe Admiral (retired) James Stavridis's comments on the Russia-Ukraine War. Stavridis claimed that the fighting will likely cease in four to six months, ending in a "frozen conflict" similar to the Korean War. Podolyak retorts, "[Ukraine] is not a Korea, [Russia] is not the DPRK. Different context, different scales. Any 'frozen conflict' means the war returning in a few years--well prepared and bloodier. The only way to put an end to the war and return security to Europe--to defeat RF [the Russian Federation] and liberate the territories."
Leader of the breakaway Transnistria Vadim Krasnoselsky calls upon representatives Moldova, Transnistria, the OSCE, Russia, Ukraine and observers from the United States and the European Union (the so-called "5+2" negotiating format) to sign a document on security guarantees to the unrecognized republic. He states: "There is an idea of calling on all the participants in the 5+2 format to draft a document on security guarantees to Transnistria...Let all those who talk about peace confirm their commitment by a signature--it will be a joint statement of all participants in the 5+2 format on security guarantees to Transnistria."
Head of Ukraine's Presidential Office Andriy Yermak comments on the state-of-play of negotiations. His key points are included below:
On Russian sanctions: "Now we are primarily working to recognize Russia as a state sponsor of terrorism. It is very important that the US Congress passes it. Today, we are focused on: Russia is a sponsor of terrorism, as well as on individual sanctions. NAZK (the National Agency for Prevention of Corruption) cooperates with us, they have created an appropriate system, there are also many thousands of Russian businessmen, whom we are applying for sanctions today. We have very important work going on regarding the Book of Executioners. I want that today every soldier who set foot on our land, his relatives, his children, his family were also on the lists for sanctions. They should all know that if you came to kill Ukrainians, your children should not go to study in civilized countries."
On weapons assistance: "The main task of Lend-Lease is that we get everything on time. It is very important for us not to enter the winter. After winter, when the Russians will have more time to dig in, it will certainly be more difficult. They drag us into it. It is very important for us not to give them such an opportunity."
On the need to liberate occupied territories: "We have a great desire and we have an absolute understanding that it must be done. But this is a topic behind which people's lives stand. Therefore, there is a desire, there is an absolute understanding that it must be done - and that's the end of it. We must win, while saving as many of our people as possible. Because heroes must be alive."
On negotiating security guarantees: "Today, we are negotiating primarily with such countries as the USA, Great Britain, France, Germany, Italy, Poland, Turkey, Australia and many others. Today, Great Britain and Poland have expressed their interest in such agreements, and in principle, we are also talking about the USA.
On joining NATO: "When the war ends, we will remain with the declarative position in the Constitution that we are joining NATO. We must have guarantees until the moment when we are either in NATO, we are not giving up on it, or there will be some other defense alliance with our international friends and partners. Therefore, we suggested to the countries that we would like them to provide us with these security guarantees on the way to NATO."
On negotiating with Russia: "Today, the only negotiations taking place are negotiations to unblock our ports. They take place at the level of our military and at the level of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, but only through the mediation of the UN. I communicate with UN Secretary General António Guterres, I do not communicate with the Russians. I think we have some progress. But for us, safety is number one. We definitely don't trust the Russians--that's understandable."
Ukrainian Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba responds to Sergei Lavrov's comments on Russia's territorial objectives in the war. He states, "By confessing dreams to grab more Ukrainian land, Russian Foreign Minister proves that Russia rejects diplomacy and focuses on war and terror. Russians want blood, not talks. I call on all partners to step up sanctions pressure on Russia and speed up arms deliveries to Ukraine."
The "Ukraine Defense Contact Group" convenes via video teleconference. Representatives from over 50 countries attend to discuss military assistance to Ukraine. Key focus areas of the meeting include HIMARS, coastal defense systems, and air defense systems.
U.S. defense leaders attend the virtual "Ukraine Defense Contact Group" meeting, 20 July 2022 (photo via Twitter @SecDef)
In an interview with RIA Novosti, Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov comments on the state-of-play in negotiations with Ukraine. His key points are included below.
Recapping the negotiation process thus far: “At the very beginning of the special military operation, the Ukrainian leadership asked to start negotiations, we did not refuse, we approached this process honestly. And the first rounds that took place in Belarus just revealed the lack of desire on the part of the Ukrainian side to seriously discuss anything. Well, then we gave them our assessment of the situation and said: ‘If you seriously want to work, give us something on paper so that we understand what specific agreements you want to talk about’. They gave us a paper [the “Istanbul Communique”], which we, by the way, supported. Yesterday, the President once again reminded of this. We were ready to conclude an agreement on the basis of their principles. We gave them a document which, I emphasize once again, was written based on their logic. And on April 15, they received such a document, and since then nothing has been heard from them.”
On the United States as a barrier to negotiation: “I have no doubts here that the Ukrainians will not be allowed to negotiate until the Americans decide that, well, we have already scandalized enough, we have sowed enough chaos here, now we can leave them.”
On the potential for employment of nuclear weapons: “We have initiated more than one statement, both a Russian-American statement and a statement by the leaders of the five permanent members of the UN Security Council that there can be no winner in a nuclear war, it can never be unleashed. This is our position. And we will stand firm in this position. At the same time, we have our doctrine, which clearly explains in what cases we will be forced to use nuclear weapons.”
On Russia’s objectives for the war: “Now the geography is different. This is not only the DPR and LPR, it is also the Kherson Oblast, Zaporizhzhia Oblast, and a number of other territories. And this process continues. And it continues consistently and persistently…Because we cannot allow the part of Ukraine that Zelensky will control there, or whoever replaces him, to have weapons that will pose a direct threat to our territory. And the territories of those republics that have declared their independence, and those that want to determine their future on their own.”
Deputy Prime Minister and Minister for Reintegration of Temporarily Occupied Territories Iryna Vereshchuk issues a warning that it is a crime for Ukrainians to accept a passport from the “aggressor state.” She states: “Regarding obtaining passports, lawyers say that there may be certain very small exceptions. For example, obtaining a passport to move to the territory controlled by Ukraine. But fundamentally, any acquisition by a Ukrainian citizen (regardless of the motives) of the passport of the aggressor state should be considered a crime. We have to convey this to the citizens who are currently under temporary occupation. I understand that this is harsh, but it is about the existence of the Ukrainian state.”
UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres arrives in Istanbul to conclude a four-party agreement with Russian, Turkish, and Ukrainian officials on maritime corridors. The agreement, which will enable the export of Ukrainian grain, is expected to be signed on 22 July.
Leader of the breakaway Donetsk People’s Republic Denis Pushilin signs a communique with head of the military-civilian administration of the occupied Kharkiv Oblast, Vitaly Ganchev. He declares the following:
Today, the time has come when historical truth and justice will triumph: the liberation of the South Russian lands has begun. Russian cities are waiting to return to their Great Motherland–to Russia. And the Russian city of Kharkiv, which has always been a provincial city of the Russian Empire, founded by decree of the Russian Tsar Alexei Mikhailovich in 1654, will also return home. The artificial separation of Russian lands and the forcible incorporation of Russian cities into Ukraine came to an end. There is a reunification of the Russian people.
Today, we are concluding the first agreement between the Donetsk People’s Republic and the liberated Kharkiv lands. This agreement will mark the beginning of a great work to restore the ties that Ukraine has been trying to destroy for many years. Tried to destroy without success. I am sure that soon Kharkiv will be liberated.
For our part, we are ready to fully support like-minded people on the way back home. Today’s communique will help to quickly reintegrate the Kharkiv lands into the cultural, political, and economic space of the Russian world. We have to restore logistics, trade relations, and cooperation between industrial enterprises.
Together, we will cope with any tasks.
Denis Pushilin meets with Vitaly Ganchev to conclude an agreement on logistics support, trade relations, and industrial cooperation between the breakaway Donetsk People's Republic and occupied areas of Kharkiv Oblast, 21 July 2022 (via Telegram)
Senior representatives from Ukraine, the Russian Federation, and Türkiye sign the "Black Sea Grain Initiative" to establishes a mechanism for the safe transportation of grain, foodstuffs, and fertilizer from Ukrainian ports to global markets. The ceremony took place at the Dolmabahce Palace in Istanbul (the same location as the Russia-Ukraine ceasefire talks on 29 March), with Ukraine’s Infrastructure Minister Oleksandr Kubrakov and Russia’s Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu signing separate agreements with Turkey. UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres signed as a witness to the agreements. The key provisions of the agreement are detailed below:
The Parties agreed to set up a Joint Coordination Centre (JCC) in Istanbul, under the auspices of the United Nations, comprised of representatives of Ukraine, the Russian Federation, Turkey, and the United Nations.
The JCC will enable the safe transportation, by merchant ships, of commercial foodstuffs and fertilizer from three key Ukrainian ports in the Black Sea: Odesa, Chornomorsk, Yuzhne.
The JCC will accomplish the following tasks: (1) monitor the movement of commercial vessels to ensure compliance with the Initiative; (2) focus on export of bulk commercial grain and related food commodities only; (3) ensure the on-site control and monitoring of cargo from Ukrainian ports; and (4) report on shipments facilitated through the Initiative.
The JCC will not facilitate the export of food from countries other than Ukraine; or facilitate exports of containers and non-food items not included under the provisions outlined in the Initiative.
The United Nations will facilitate the unimpeded exports to world markets of Russian food and fertilizer, including the raw materials required to produce fertilizers. This agreement creates a clear exemption between this and sanctions imposed on Russia. In exchange, Russia commits to facilitate the unimpeded export of food, sunflower oil and fertilizers from Ukrainian controlled Black Sea ports.
Delegates sign the Black Sea Grain Initiative in Istanbul, 22 July 2022 (photo via Twitter @MevlutCavusoglu)
Occupation authorities in Kherson announce that they are forming an election committee to prepare for a referendum on joining Russia. The authorities declare: "According to the July 22, 2022 decree by the head of the Kherson Region’s military-civilian administration, an election committee of the Kherson Region is being created numbering seven members with a three-year term of tenure and nominations are being accepted."
Less than 24 hours after signing the "Black Sea Grain Initiative," Russian forces launch four missiles at port facilities in Odesa. UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres condemns the attack, with his office issuing the following statement:
The Secretary-General unequivocally condemns reported strikes today in the Ukrainian port of Odesa [sic]. Yesterday, all parties made clear commitments on the global stage to ensure the safe movement of Ukrainian grain and related products to global markets. These products are desperately needed to address the global food crisis and ease the suffering of millions of people in need around the globe. Full implementation by the Russian Federation, Ukraine and Türkiye is imperative.
Ukrainian Presidential Advisor and negotiator Mikhail Podolyak comments on the Black Sea Grain Initiative and Russia's subsequent strike on Odesa:
First: Ukraine has not signed any direct agreements with the Russian Federation regarding grain. Only with Turkey and the UN, regrding the organization of transportation logistics for 18-20 million tons of grain worth 10+ billion dollars.
Second: the Russian Federation undertook specific obligations to other countries to ensure the safety of "grain corridors," that is, not firing at storage/transfer locations and routes. Turkey and the UN are the guarantors that Russia will show at least a modicum of prudence in the grain issue. Let's fix this...
Third: the deliberate attack of the Russian Federation on the Odesa port literally a few hours after the signing of all the documents perfectly characterizes the specifc "mental state" of Russia. They clearly prefer to prove constantly to the world, especially to those who still cherish illusions about the remnants of the "Russian mind," that they are incapable of negotiation. And that's great, because it is already too obvious.
Fourth: the open, undisguised intention to strike at the grain stocks in the Odesa port is a direct message from the Russians to the Arab and African countries (and that is where the most important neutral or even somewhat pro-Russian sentiments are): "You are nobody at all! And we, stilted Russians, spat on your hunger, grain, and other desires!"
And finally, fifth: whether anyone wants to admit it or not, Russia has deliberately dealt a demonstrative and humiliating blow to the reputation of Turkey and the UN. Again, they have all but addressed them with this classic phrase: "Well, what are you going to do?" But we remember that it is Turkey and the UN that are the full "security guarantors" of grain transport corridors, and they have guaranteed the hungry world (not only Ukraine) that Russia will stand aside at least here...
After initially disavowing responsibility for the missile strike against Odesa, Russian Foreign Ministry Spokesperson Maria Zakharova states that Russian Kalibr missiles "destroyed the military infrastructure of the Odesa port."
Despite the Russian attack on Odesa, the parties to the Black Sea Grain Initiative continue to move forward with implementation of the agreement. Both the Ukrainian Sea Ports Authority and the Turkish Ministry of Defense announce that work continues to start the transport of Ukrainian grain from Odesa, Chornomorsk, and Yuzhne.
Infrastructure Minister Oleksandr Kubrakov announces that Ukrainian grain exports will begin on 27 July. Shipments will begin from Chornomorsk, followed by Odesa and Pivdennyi (Yuzhne).
Vladimir Rogov, leader of the Russian-backed occupation authorities in Zaporizhzhia, states that he hopes to hold the region's referendum for joining Russia on the same day as occupied Kherson. He asserts that doing so will prevent Ukraine from disrupting the proceedings. Rogov did not give a specific date, but notes that the referendum will happen in the first half of September.
The Russian Ministry of Defense announces that work has formally begun in the Joint Coordination Centre in Istanbul. The Ministry's press release on the matter states the following:
In accordance with the provisions of the Black Sea Initiative, the joint grain export coordination center has begun work in Istanbul. The Russian delegation is headed by Rear Admiral Eduard Luik. The main task of the Russian specialists in the joint grain export coordination center is to to promptly resolve all necessary issues to bring the [Black Sea Grain Initiative] to the stage of practical implementation.
Turkish Minister of Defense Hulusi Akar meets with Ukrainian Infrastructure Minister Oleksandr Kubrakov in Istanbul. During the meeting, they affirm the importance of the Joint Coordination Centre's work in initiating grain exports from Ukraine. The Turkish Defense Ministry has set up the JCC at its university in Istanbul's Levent neighborhood. It is set to be staffed by about twenty personnel including Turkish, Russian, and Ukrainian military officers and UN representatives under the management of a Turkish admiral.
Turkish Defense Minister Hulusi Akar meets Ukrainian Infrastructure Minister Oleksandr Kubrakov in Istanbul, 26 July 2022 (photo via Twitter @tcsavunma)
Turkish Defense Minister Hulusi Akar presides over the ceremonial opening of the Joint Coordination Centre in Istanbul.
The Joint Coordination Centre, 27 July 2022 (photo via Twitter @tcsavunma)
Kirill Stremousov, Deputy head of Russian-backed occupation authorities in the Kherson region, states that they are preparing to hold a referendum on joining Russia. He declares, "The Kherson Region will forget about neo-Nazism already in the near future. We are getting ready for the referendum, we will hold it. I hope that in the near future already we will become a full-fledged territorial entity of the Russian Federation." The rhetoric from Stremousov and occupation authorities in Zaporizhzhia point to referenda that will be held on the same day in early September.
Leader of the breakaway Luhansk People's Republic Leonid Pasechnik announces that Vladimir Putin endorsed an initiative to issue housing certificates to residents in Luhansk whose houses were destroyed that allow them to buy housing anywhere else in the LPR. Pasechnik states, "On my own behalf and on the behalf of all the inhabitants of the republic, I express my sincere gratitude to Vladimir Vladimirovich [Putin] for this step in supporting our people. Without the help of Russia, we cannot cope with the consequences of the crimes of the Ukrainian regime."
Ambassadors from six of the G7 countries plus Turkey travel to Odesa to observe preparations for Ukrainian grain exports. Their visit comes one week after Russian forces launched multiple missiles at facilities in the port. Referencing the Black Sea Grain Initiative, British Ambassador Melinda Simmons conveys one key message: "Russia must respect the deal."
Ambassadors and representatives from Canada, France, Germany, Italy, Turkey, the United Kingdom, United Nations, and United States visit Odesa, 29 July 2022 (photo via Twitter @MelSimmonsFCDO)
An explosion occurs at a POW detention facility in Olevnika, a city located in the breakaway Donetsk People's Republic. Russian forces notify the Ukrainian side that 53 of 193 Ukrainian prisoners were killed, with Russia officially claiming that the explosion was caused by a U.S.-made HIMARS rocket. The Ukrainian government roundly condemns the incident as a "false flag" attack and an act of terrorism, issuing the following statement:
In his nightly address, President Volodymyr Zelensky discusses the evacuation of civilians from the Donetsk region. During the previous week, Deputy Prime Minister and Minister for Reintegration of Temporarily Occupied Territories Iryna Vereshchuk began laying the groundwork for the evacuation, establishing a coordination headquarters to manage the evacuation and engaging the Cabinet of Ministers on the issue. This push to evacuate civilians comes amidst a Ukrainian counteroffensive aimed at reclaiming occupied territories and with winter approaching. The harsh Ukrainian winter introduces additional humanitarian challenges, and the Ukrainian government's goal is to evacuate as many civilians as possible prior before that season comes.
Russian Deputy (member of Parliament) Artem Turtov announces that residents in occupied Kharkiv Oblast will start receiving Russian passports in August, adding that they will also begin instituting Russian educational curriculum. He states, "It appears to me that everyone now realizes very well that Russia is here to stay, especially after the decisions made at the federal level in terms of the simplified issuance of passports throughout the former Ukraine."
Ukraine's Defense Intelligence Directorate announces that occupation authorities in Kherson and Zaporizhzhia are taking concrete steps towards preparing for referenda on joining Russia. The Directorate identifies that pro-Kremlin officials are generating "voter lists," establishing polling stations, and distributing Russian passports.
The International Committee of the Red Cross condemns the attack on Olevnika and takes steps to gain access to the facility. The official statement reads as follows:
We strongly condemn the recent attack on a penal facility holding prisoners of war (POWs) in Olenivka. Too many lives have been lost and families torn apart in the armed conflict in Ukraine. We immediately requested access to Olenivka and POWs, offering our assistance: Medical assistance to the wounded; Support in the evacuation of the seriously injured to medical facilities and with medical supplies; Provision of resources to help with the identification and dignified management of the dead. We stand ready to support the return and transfer of mortal remains. And we continue our work to bring news to families who have lost contact with loved ones in this conflict. To be clear, our request to access the POWs from Olenivka penal facility yesterday has not been granted. Granting ICRC access to POWs is an obligation of parties to conflict under the Geneva Conventions. We will not stop seeking access to these POWs and to all POWs of this international armed conflict who we have not had access to yet.
The Russian Defense Ministry announces that it has formally invited United Nations and International Committee of the Red Cross to investigate the incident at the POW detention facility in Olevnika. The formal statement simply reads, "Russia has officially invited UN and International Committee of the Red Cross experts to engage in an impartial investigation into an attack on a pre-trial detention center in Yelenovka [Olevnika], which killed a large number of Ukrainian prisoners of war." The Russian government maintains that the attack was perpetrated by Ukrainian forces using U.S.-made HIMARS weapons systems.
Leader of the breakaway Donetsk People's Republic Denis Pushilin argues that Ukraine's push to evacuate civilians from the Donbas region is meant to discredit any referenda held there. He states:
Any steps of the Ukrainian regime are geared at anything but defending the interests of civilians, the more so in Donbas. Here, such statements [on evacuation] have absolutely clear goals. These are elements of the frustration, attempts [at challenging] the legitimacy of a referendum due to be held in the Donetsk People’s Republic. What does Zelensky want? After these settlements are liberated, he will say: ‘There were no people there, what kind of referendum you are speaking about?’ It is a kind of preparatory work.
The first vessel departs Odesa under the auspices of the Black Sea Grain Initiative. The ship leaves with 26,000 tons of corn aboard, with preparations underway for other similarly-loaded vessels to depart from all three ports designated under the agreements signed on 22 July.
Unmooring the first vessel to depart Odesa port under the Black Sea Grain Initiative, 1 August 2022 (photo via Twitter @OlKubrakov)
During his speech to the Tenth Review Conference of Parties to the Treaty on the on-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons, Director General of the International Atomic Energy Agency describes the dire situation at the Zaporizhzhia Nuclear Power facility in occupied Ukraine [note: his speech took place on 1 August, New York time]. His full comments on the subject are below:
Deputy Prime Minister and Minister for the Reintegration of Temporarily Occupied Areas Iryna Vereshchuk announces that the mandatory evacuation of civilians from Donetsk Oblast has begun.
The evacuation of Donetsk Oblast, 2 August 2022 (photos via Iryna Vereshchuk)
The Joint Investigation Team established under the Black Sea Grain Initiative completes its inspection of the first vessel to depart Ukraine laden with food exports. The Turkish Ministry of Defense announces that the Sierra Leone-flagged RAZONI will soon pass the Bosporus Strait to proceed onto Lebanon, loaded with nearly 27,000 tons of corn.
The Joint Inspection Team examines the RAZONI, 3 August 2022 (photos via Twitter @tcsavunma)
Amnesty International publishes an assessment that Ukrainian fighting tactics have endangered civilians. Secretary General Agnès Callamard states, "We have documented a pattern of Ukrainian forces putting civilians at risk and violating the laws of war when they operate in populated areas...Being in a defensive position does not exempt the Ukrainian military from respecting international humanitarian law."
Several senior Ukrainian officials rebuke the Amnesty International assessment. Ukrainian Deputy Prime Minister Iryna Vereshchuk states, "I don't think this human rights organization wanted to do anything bad...However, these statements sound disrespectful to the Armed Forces and to us Ukrainians...After all, we are on our land, fighting for our land and for the future of our children. It is not necessary to teach us and read us morals." Ukrainian Presidential Advisor and negotitor Mikhail Podolyak hits more directly, asserting, "Today, Moscow tries to discredit the Armed Forces of [Ukraine] in the eyes of Western societies and disrupt weapons supply using the entire network of influence agents. It is a shame that the organization like [Amnesty International] is participating in this disinformation and propaganda campaign.
The next three vessels laden with grain shipments are loaded and ready to set sail from Ukrainian ports under the Black Sea Grain Initiative. These vessels are scheduled to launch on 5 August, as arranged by the Joint Coordination Centre in Istanbul. In addition, an empty vessel will proceed to Ukrainian ports after undergoing inspection in Turkey.
The Zaporizhzhia Nuclear Power Plant is shelled multiple times, with both sides blaming the other. Ukraine's state-run nuclear power operator Energoatom issues a statement declaring that the attack was the work of Russian forces and that it created a high risk of fire, as well as hydrogen and radioactive leakage. Meanwhile, Russian occupation authorities in the nearby town of Enerhodar claim that it was Ukrainian forces who shelled the grounds of facility three times. The Director General of the International Atomic Energy Agency had previously identified the situation at Zaporizhzhia Nuclear Power Plant as "perilous."
Three more vessels depart Ukraine under the auspices of the Black Sea Grain Initiative. Ukrainian Infrastructure Oleksandr Kubrakov notes the progress, but states that Ukraine must reach a volume of 100 vessels per month "to be able to export the necessary amount of foodstuffs."
The Joint Inspection Team conducts its first inspection of an empty vessel bound for Ukraine. The Turkish Ministry of Defense announces that the empty Barbados-flagged FULMAR S passed its inspection and will proceed onward to receive grain from the Chornomorsk Port of Ukraine.
The Joint Inspection Team conducts its inspection of an empty vessel bound for Ukraine, 5 August 2022 (photos via Twitter @tcsavunma)