July in Ukraine was really hot, even though the front line had practically frozen. The last major victory of the Russian occupation forces was the capture of Lysychansk on July 3. Ukrainian troops were forced to leave the last major city in the Luhansk region, which remained under the control of Kyiv.
“We will definitely come back. Ukraine protects the lives of its soldiers, our people,” President of Ukraine Volodymyr Zelensky said.
The Russian Ministry of Defense, as Ukrainians informally call it, the Ministry of Murder, sounded triumphal. They sold this “victory” to their people as the liberation of the poor inhabitants of Donbas from the Kyiv regime. Apparently, they don’t understand that people can elect their leaders democratically. And there is no “regime” in Kyiv. When the Russians flaunt victories, they do not mention those cities no longer exist. Almost 90% of the population has left, and all critical infrastructure with housing has been leveled.
And after Lysychansk, the frontline stabilized. Both sides managed to take over only small villages. Russia had to temporarily ease its offensive in Ukraine as the Russian military attempted to reassemble its forces.
However, the biggest highlight of July was the American High Mobility Artillery Rocket System (HIMARS). In early July, four (and some say eight) high-precision systems were in the hands of the Ukrainian army. It has been a major high-tech upgrade. HIMARS is highly mobile, allowing it to be deployed, hit specific targets, and then leave the area without delay, even before the enemy could determine the exact location of the missile launch. The range of the systems provided by Washington is about 80km. So far, the U.S. refuses to supply Ukraine with longer-range systems.
Even these range systems have wreaked havoc on Russian positions far behind the frontlines, destroying command posts and ammunition depots, tens of millions worth of ammunition.
In this regard, the Russians went crazy and staged terror throughout Ukraine, firing missiles at civilians.
The Russian army carried out a missile strike with “Uragan” on two residential buildings in a small Eastern Ukrainian town, Chasiv Yar, on July 9. This horrible attack killed 48 civilians, including a child. The Russian side surely lied about it, saying they had killed “over 300 nationalists.”
Another outraging atrocity happened in Vinnytsia on July 14. This big city lies too far away from the frontline. Many Ukrainians from war zones fled there to find a safe place. The Russians fired five “Kalibr” high-precise, very expensive cruise missiles from a submarine in the Black Sea. This missile is pretty valuable for Russia, which means personally Putin ordered to launch this rocket strike.
It landed in the very city center of Vinnytsia at around 10 AM, when people were actively doing their business. But 26 civilians, including three children, never came back home.
Russia shells Ukraine daily, making every single part of the huge country unsafe. Their authorities want to force Ukraine to surrender. They do not understand that Ukrainians are not Russians. Every missile strike makes Ukrainians even more angry and united.
Russia speaks the only language – the language of power. They want to see the entire world obey them. Vladimir Putin proved it once again, slapping Recep Tayyip Erdoğan’s face, who, by the way, hasn’t joined the sanctions against Russia.
Since Russia has been using food as a weapon, they blocked Ukrainian ports with hundreds of tons of grain. Many country leaders called on to solve this issue, but following negotiations mediated by Turkey and the UN, Russia agreed to unblock Ukrainian ports at a ceremony in Istanbul on July 22. Significant to say, Ukraine did not sign any documents with Russia. Both Ukraine and Russia signed the same deal separately brokered by Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan and United Nations chief Antonio Guterres as co-guarantor of the agreement.
The very next Russian missiles hit Ukraine’s port of Odesa, which was prohibited to attack, according to the deal.
“It was a spit in the face of Erdoğan and Guterres,” stated the Ukrainian Ministry of Foreign Affairs.
Russia showed again that agreements with it “are not worth the paper it is written,” as Otto von Bismarck said.
Unfortunately, the last days of July discovered a new level of Russian atrocities. A horrific video, published on pro-Russian Telegram channels, showed a Russian soldier castrating a Ukrainian prisoner who was subsequently murdered in occupied Sievierodonetsk.
“Russia is a country of cannibals who enjoy torture and murder,” wrote on Twitter the Ukrainian presidential adviser Mykhailo Podoliak.
The face of the murderer could be recognized on the footage, but Russian bots have been trying to fool investigators, throwing wrong data on that person on social media. Meanwhile, Ukrainians have launched a fundraising campaign with a solid reward to find “the soldier.”
It is a pure violation of the Geneva Convention, same as a horrific tragedy in occupied Olenivka, near Donetsk. The Russian army bombed Ukrainian soldiers who surrendered at the Azovstal plant in Mariupol several months ago. It resulted in the death of over 40 prisoners.
Russia wanted to hide traces of torture against prisoners of war. Therefore, they prepared a room in advance, where they transferred the exhausted Azov warriors. Two days later, they blew up this room with people inside. Immediately, Russian propagandists showed, allegedly, fragments from HIMARS missiles. So they claimed that it was Ukraine to attack its own defenders. As usual, Russia was not convincing – the “HIMARS fragments” were rusty. How is it possible? This means the Russians had collected some scrap metal in advance only for filming. In addition, the Russian media reported, for some reason, that none of the colony wardens was injured. Probably someone warned them about the explosion?
HIMARS should turn the tide of the war. Russia is trying with all its might to show the West that it is dangerous to give this type of weaponry to Ukraine. And Ukrainians should be afraid to join the army because they will face torture and death in captivity.
“In the light of Russian military evildoers, we are pursuing the norms of international humanitarian law. We will do everything possible and impossible to punish the guilty evildoers against our brothers, sisters, and peaceful people,” the Ukrainian Commander-in-Chief, Valeri Zaluzhny, warned the occupants.
This July again proved to us that Russia is an aggressor country that must be punished for all crimes and genocide against the Ukrainian people.
Written by: Daria Meshcheriakova, ukrainian journalist ( associate of The Geopost)