In northern Ukraine, Russian forces continued shelling border areas in Chernihiv Oblast. Between 09 and 11 July, at least five civilian injuries were reported as a result of Russian shelling in Sumy Oblast.
In the east of Ukraine, Russian troops continued to conduct limited ground assaults northwest Kharkiv city, however the town and the surrounding settlements have suffered heavy air, artillery, and missile Russian strikes targeting civilian infrastructure. Six people were killed and a further 31 injured.
In the Donbas, Russian troops have made limited advances toward the towns of Sloviansk, Kramatorsk and Bakhmut in the eastern Donetsk Oblast. A Russian missile hit a residential block killing at least 38 civilians in Chasiv Yar, west of Bakhmut, on 10 July. Chasiv Yar and several other Donetsk Oblast settlements have been under heavy shelling in recent days as Russian forces attempt to reduce Ukrainian resistance in the area and advance west towards Kramatorsk and Slovyansk, among which the following stand out:
- From 10 to 12 July, Ukrainian authorities reported that Russian troops conducted unsuccessful operations and ground assaults toward Dovhenke, Mazanivka, Krasnopillia, and Dolyna west of the E40 highway and Mayaky and Ivanivka east of the E40 highway, within 30 km of Slovyansk.
- Luhansk People‘s Republic (LNR) Deputy Internal Minister Vitaly Kiselyov stated that Russian forces took control of Bohorodychne. However, Ukrainian authorities claimed that Russian forces have yet to fully capture Bohorodychne and that the settlement is under heavy artillery fire.
- Russian military forces continued to conduct unsuccessful ground assaults northwest of Slovyansk and shelled east of Siversk from the Lysychansk area.
In addition, Russian forces continued to fire along the line of contact in the Avdiivka-Donetsk City area over the last week and, during the night from 10 to 11 July, Russians forces launched five rocket attacks and four large-scale artillery attacks on civilian areas on the border of the Luhansk region and Donetsk region.
In the south, Russian military forces continued air, artillery, and missile strikes along the entire Kherson-Mykolaiv line of contact. Ukrainian authorities claimed that Russia launched several Kh-31 missiles from Crimea targeting critical infrastructure in Odesa Oblast. On 12 July, Ukrainian forces claimed to conduct a long-range rocket strike against Russian forces and military equipment in Russian-occupied Nova Kakhovka in the Kherson Oblast, killing six people according to Russian authorities.
Ukrainian Deputy Prime Minister Iryna Vereshchuk continued urging citizens in Kherson and Zaporizhzhia to evacuate due to efforts by Ukrainian forces to recapture territory currently held by Russian forces. On 12 July, several social media users reported a series of explosions and smoke rising near Zaporizhzhia Nuclear Power Plant, located in the city of Enerhodar, that has been occupied by Russian forces since early March. Russia claimed the Ukrainian Armed Forces launched an attack with a drone, however, US intelligence reported that Russian forces likely conducted false-flag attacks in Enerhodar.
Since 11 July, navigation has resumed on the Ukrainian side of the Danube Estuary, opening a sea route through the Bystre Canal in Odesa Oblast that has allowed Ukraine to resume grain exports. More than 20 million tonnes of Ukrainian grain remain stuck in silos at the Black Sea port of Odesa and dozens of ships have been stranded due to Russia’s blockade. In addition, on 13 July, Ukrainian Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba stated that a deal to resume grain exports blocked by Russia appeared very close as talks in Turkey prepared to resume. As a result of these actions, Ukraine hopes to increase monthly exports of grain by 500,000 tonnes, reducing food insecurity across the world.
In western Ukraine, there have been no significant developments. In Lviv, air alarms have been sounded several times in the last days, due to the threat of missiles launched from Belarus, but in the end no impact materialised. All of Ukraine remains under risk of Russian missile attacks, however, the risk of a Russian ground invasion of western Ukraine remains low.
On 12 July, the European Space Agency (ESA) announced it will terminate cooperation with Russian space agency Roscosmos on the mission to search for signs of life on Mars. The mission is also intended to investigate the history of water on Mars.
On 11 July, US National Security adviser Jake Sullivan claimed that Iran is preparing to supply Russia with drones, including weapons-capable drones, and preparing to train Russian military forces in the operation of drones by the end of July. This would improve Russian aerial reconnaissance and indirect fire accuracy in Ukraine. Russian President Vladimir Putin is planning to visit Tehran next week to hold talks with the Turkish President, Recep Tayyip Erdoğan. Tehran has repeatedly expressed its support for Russia and Iran’s exports to Russia have increased since Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. The US decision to publically accuse Iran of supporting Russia’s war activities comes as both Israel and Saudi Arabia – two of Iran’s regional enemies – have refused to join Western efforts to sanction Russia for its invasion of Ukraine.
Nord Stream 1, the largest pipeline transporting Russian gas to Germany, began its annual maintenance on 11 July, and will suspend gas flows for ten days. European governments and companies are concerned that Russia will extend the scheduled maintenance to further restrict European gas supplies because of Europe’s support for Ukraine. However, Russia stated that it will increase gas supplies to Europe if the Nord Stream 1 turbine was returned by Canada. On 10 July, the Canadian Government announced that it will return a recently repaired turbine needed for the Nord Stream 1 pipeline to Germany. This move could help guarantee the continuity of energy flows until Europe can cease its dependence on Russian gas. It is unclear how long it will take for the turbine to be returned to Russia and whether this will impact Russia’s provision of energy to Europe.
A total interruption of Russian gas would force Germany to decide how to distribute gas supplies nationwide, as well as prolong inflation and high gas prices across Europe. This would affect industry and households, likely bringing Europe into recession. The likelihood of a total shut-off of Russian gas to Europe is possible.
Russian forces will likely continue to attack the Slovyansk-Kramatorsk area from positions to the northwest along the Kharkiv-Donetsk Oblast border to prepare for eventual assaults on both Slovyansk and Kramatorsk. Russian military forces are likely to cross the Siverskyi Donets River near Mayaky and Sydorove in order to move south to the E40 road and encircle the Ukrainian salient between Dolyna, Bohordodychne, Pryshb and Mayaky, as Russian frontal attacks on Dolyna and Bohordodychne have previously been unsuccessful. In addition, Russian troops are also likely to continue the intensive shelling around Siversk in order to prepare to advance on the city.
Several reports indicate access to Belarusian airspace by Russian aircraft this week. Belarusian President Alexander Lukashenko is likely to continue to grant Russian forces access to Belarusian airspace as a move to continue showing his support for Putin and without providing Belarusian forces in Ukraine. The likelihood of direct Belarusian involvement in the Ukrainian war remains low due to the effect it could have on the stability and even survival of the Lukashenko regime.