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Zelenskyy Says Putin Is Waging a ‘Gas War' Against Europe; Wheat Prices Rise After Odesa Attack

Metin Aktas | Anadolu Agency | Getty Images

This is CNBC's live blog tracking developments on the war in Ukraine.

A U.N.-backed deal to resume exports of Ukrainian grain has been thrown into doubt after missile strikes at the weekend.

The strikes, on the port city of Odesa, have been widely condemned, as the Kremlin insists that they hit military infrastructure.

Wheat prices have risen on news of the attack, after falling on Friday following the agreement between Russia and Ukraine.

State Department says officials are working 'behind the scenes quietly' toward release of WNBA star Griner, other wrongfully detained Americans

U.S. basketball player Brittney Griner, who was detained at Moscow's Sheremetyevo airport and later charged with illegal possession of cannabis, holds a bar, on the day of a court hearing in Khimki outside Moscow, Russia, July, 15, 2022. 
Evgenia Novozhenina | Reuters
U.S. basketball player Brittney Griner, who was detained at Moscow's Sheremetyevo airport and later charged with illegal possession of cannabis, holds a bar, on the day of a court hearing in Khimki outside Moscow, Russia, July, 15, 2022. 

The State Department said it is closely monitoring WNBA star Brittney Griner's trial in Russia as she heads back to court tomorrow.

"We are working around the clock behind the scenes quietly to do everything we possibly can to see to it that Brittany Griner's ordeal, just as Paul Whelan's ordeal, is put to an end just as soon as can be possibly managed," Price said, referencing a former U.S. Marine who is also detained in Russia.

Price added that senior embassy officials have been able to speak to Griner amid her trial in a Moscow court.

The 31-year-old Griner, who plays professional basketball in Russia during the WNBA offseason, was arrested in February at a Russian airport on accusations that she was smuggling hashish oil.

— Amanda Macias

At least 100 nuclear power plant employees kidnapped by Russian troops, president of energy company says

A Russian serviceman patrols the territory of the Zaporizhzhia Nuclear Power Station in Energodar on May 1, 2022. The Zaporizhzhia Nuclear Power Station, seized by Russian forces in March, is in southeastern Ukraine and is the largest nuclear power plant in Europe and among the 10 largest in the world. This picture was taken during a media trip organised by the Russian army.
Andrey Borodulin | Afp | Getty Images
A Russian serviceman patrols the territory of the Zaporizhzhia Nuclear Power Station in Energodar on May 1, 2022. The Zaporizhzhia Nuclear Power Station, seized by Russian forces in March, is in southeastern Ukraine and is the largest nuclear power plant in Europe and among the 10 largest in the world. This picture was taken during a media trip organised by the Russian army.

The president of a Ukrainian nuclear power plant company said Russian forces kidnapped about 100 of its employees.

"There are about 500 Russian soldiers on the territory of the plant. They are the ones letting employees into their working stations and control everything that is going on on the territory of the Zaporizhzhya nuclear power plant," Petro Kotin of Energoatom said, according to an NBC News translation.

Kotin added that Russian troops took ID badges and entered a secure area within the nuclear power plant. He said "what they did there is not known."

He said they may not have followed proper security controls and "it is quite possible that they got radioactive contamination on their clothes out of the control zone."

— Amanda Macias

More than 180 religious buildings and sites damaged in war, Ukraine says

Irpin resident Halyna says she and her neighbors are still living in their destroyed apartments, which have no electricity or roof.
Christopher Furlong | Getty Images
Irpin resident Halyna says she and her neighbors are still living in their destroyed apartments, which have no electricity or roof.

More than 180 religious buildings and sites across 14 regions in Ukraine have been destroyed during Russia's war, according to a new tally compiled by the Ukrainian government.

More than 120 of the damaged or destroyed sites were Christian structures belonging to the Ukrainian Orthodox Church.

"Mosques, synagogues and educational and administrative buildings of religious communities in Ukraine were also destroyed," according to the statement.

— Amanda Macias

Putin is waging a 'gas war' against Europe, Zelenskyy says

Russian President Vladimir Putin attends a meeting with participants of the Bolshaya Peremena national contest for school students, via video link in Moscow, Russia July 20, 2022. 
Pavel Byrkin | Sputnik | Reuters
Russian President Vladimir Putin attends a meeting with participants of the Bolshaya Peremena national contest for school students, via video link in Moscow, Russia July 20, 2022. 

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy said that Russian President Vladimir Putin is waging a "gas war" against Europe.

"Russia is not going to resume gas supplies to European countries, as it is contractually obligated to do. And this is an open gas war, which Russia is waging against a united Europe," Zelenskyy said during a nightly address on the Telegram messaging app.

"They don't care what will happen to the people, how they will suffer from hunger due to the blocking of ports or from winter cold and poverty," Zelenskyy said, adding that Russia is engaging in "different forms of terror."

He also called on global leaders to sever trade ties with Russia "as much as possible" in order to pressure Moscow.

— Amanda Macias

State Department donates 500,000 Covid-19 vaccines to Ukraine

The State Department said it has donated nearly 500,000 Covid-19 vaccine doses to Ukraine as the Kremlin's war marches into its fifth month.

"As we continue to confront COVID-19 worldwide, we must keep in mind those affected by crises and war in places like Ukraine," Secretary of State Antony Blinken wrote via Twitter.

"This shipment of vaccine doses furthers our commitment to defeating the pandemic and supporting Ukraine in the face of Russia's unprovoked war of choice," he added.

— Amanda Macias

Russia's Gazprom further reduces gas flow of Nord Stream 1 pipeline, citing repairs

Nord Stream 1 provider said gas flows have resumed after maintenance works.
Hannibal Hanschke | Reuters
Nord Stream 1 provider said gas flows have resumed after maintenance works.

Russia's Gazprom said it would further reduce natural gas flows through a major pipeline to Europe to 20% of capacity, citing repairs of equipment.

The Russian state-owned company tweeted that it would reduce "the daily throughput" of the Nord Stream 1 pipeline to Germany to 33 million cubic meters as of Wednesday. The head of Germany's network regulator confirmed the reduction.

The move comes after Gazprom raised questions about the return of a part that has been at the center of tensions over natural gas deliveries through the pipeline, saying that it isn't satisfied with documents it has received.

The company reduced the gas flow through the Nord Stream 1 pipeline by 60% in mid-June, citing alleged technical problems involving the equipment that partner Siemens Energy sent to Canada for overhaul and couldn't be returned because of sanctions over Russia's invasion of Ukraine.

Germany has rejected Gazprom's technical explanation for the gas reduction, saying repeatedly that it was only a pretext for the Kremlin's political decision to sow uncertainty and further push up energy prices.

— Associated Press

Ukraine hopes to start exporting agricultural products tomorrow, official says

Farmers harvest a wheat field near Melitopol in Ukraine amid Russia's onsluaght.
Olga Maltseva | Afp | Getty Images
Farmers harvest a wheat field near Melitopol in Ukraine amid Russia's onsluaght.

Despite a Russian missile strike on a Ukrainian port over the weekend, Ukraine will start to export grains and other food products tomorrow, the country's deputy infrastructure minister said.

"Within the next day, we will be ready to work on the restoration of the export of agricultural products through our ports," Yuriy Vaskov told reporters, according to an NBC News translation.

Vaskov said that Chornomorsk will be the first port to reopen, followed by Odesa and Pivdennyi. Vaskov added that in the next two weeks, all ports will be exporting agricultural products on a consistent basis.

— Amanda Macias

UN says at least 5,237 killed in Ukraine since start of war

This photograph taken on July 15, 2022, shows recently made graves at a cemetery in the Vinogradnoe district, Donetsk region, amid the ongoing Russian military action in Ukraine.
- | Afp | Getty Images
This photograph taken on July 15, 2022, shows recently made graves at a cemetery in the Vinogradnoe district, Donetsk region, amid the ongoing Russian military action in Ukraine.

The United Nations has confirmed 5,237 civilian deaths and 7,035 injuries in Ukraine since Russia invaded its ex-Soviet neighbor on Feb. 24.

The Office of the U.N. High Commissioner for Human Rights said the death toll in Ukraine is likely higher, because the armed conflict can delay fatality reports.

The international organization said most of the civilian casualties recorded were caused by the use of explosive weapons with a wide impact area, including shelling from heavy artillery and multiple launch rocket systems, as well as missiles and airstrikes.

— Amanda Macias

Moldova fears Russian invasion

Prime Minister of Moldova Natalia Gavrilita speaks in the Treaty Room at the State Department in Washington, DC, on July 19, 2022, ahead of a meeting with US Secretary of State Antony Blinken.
Manuel Balce Ceneta | AFP | Getty Images
Prime Minister of Moldova Natalia Gavrilita speaks in the Treaty Room at the State Department in Washington, DC, on July 19, 2022, ahead of a meeting with US Secretary of State Antony Blinken.

Natalia Gavrilița, the prime minister of nearby Moldova spoke to CNN Sunday, saying "nobody is safe" with the conflict raging in Eastern Europe.

"It's a hypothetical scenario for now, but if the military actions move further into the southwestern part of Ukraine and toward Odesa then, of course, we are very worried," Gavrilița said.

"We are very worried, especially considering that troops are on the territory of the secessionist Transnistria region," she said.

"We are doing everything possible to maintain peace and stability and to ensure that the fighting does not escalate."

Moldova is home to a sizeable pro-Russian separatist population based in the breakaway state of Transnistria.

—Matt Clinch

UK to host 2023 Eurovision Song Contest

Kalush Orchestra from Ukraine celebrate after winning the Grand Final of the Eurovision Song Contest at Palaolimpico arena, in Turin, Italy, Saturday, May 14, 2022.
Luca Bruno | AP
Kalush Orchestra from Ukraine celebrate after winning the Grand Final of the Eurovision Song Contest at Palaolimpico arena, in Turin, Italy, Saturday, May 14, 2022.

The European Broadcasting Union confirmed that the U.K. will host next year's Eurovision Song Contest on behalf of war-torn Ukraine.

"Following the decision that, regrettably, next year's event could not be held in Ukraine for safety and security reasons the EBU explored a number of options with the winning broadcaster," the EBU said in a statement.

"As a result of discussions, the BBC, as runner up in the 2022 Contest, was invited by the EBU to act as Host Broadcaster for the 67th Eurovision Song Contest."

"Stefania" by the Kalush Orchestra finished first back at the 2022 event in May, while Britain's Sam Ryder came second with "Space Man."

—Matt Clinch

Food inflation from the Russia-Ukraine war could last till 2024: CEO

Sunny Verghese, the CEO of major food and agri-business Olam Group, tells CNBC that it's difficult to predict how much more food prices will increase.

Kremlin says Odesa strikes hit military infrastructure

Rescue teams dig through the rubble of buildings destroyed in overnight attacks in a search for survivors, in the city of Chuhuiv, Kharkiv region, on July 25, 2022, amid the Russian invasion of Ukraine.
Sergey Bobok | AFP | Getty Images
Rescue teams dig through the rubble of buildings destroyed in overnight attacks in a search for survivors, in the city of Chuhuiv, Kharkiv region, on July 25, 2022, amid the Russian invasion of Ukraine.

Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov insisted that the strikes in Odesa over the weekend targeted military infrastructure.

"There is nothing in the obligations that Russia took, including within the framework of the agreements signed on July 22 in Istanbul, which prohibit us from continuing the special military operation, destroying military infrastructure and other military targets," Lavrov said at a press conference alongside his Congolese counterpart Christophe Lutundula in Oyo, Congo.

The strike on Odesa, Ukraine's largest port, dealt another setback to so far fruitless efforts to mitigate a mounting global food crisis.

Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov also told reporters separately that Russia's strikes wouldn't influence the gain exports from the region.

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy called the strikes on Saturday an act of barbarism.

— Matt Clinch and Amanda Macias

Wheat prices rise after Odesa attack

A fire destroys a wheat field as Russian troops shell fields to prevent local farmers from harvesting grain crops, Polohy district, Zaporizhzhia Region, southeastern Ukraine.
Dmytro Smolyenko | Future Publishing | Getty Images
A fire destroys a wheat field as Russian troops shell fields to prevent local farmers from harvesting grain crops, Polohy district, Zaporizhzhia Region, southeastern Ukraine.

Wheat futures prices for September on the Chicago Board of Trade were up 3.6% on Monday morning as traders showed caution on a grain export deal signed by Russia and Ukraine last week.

The two countries on Friday signed a U.N.-backed deal to resume exports of Ukrainian grain through the Black Sea. The deal is significant for global food supplies, but also as it's the first major agreement between the two sides since Moscow launched it's unprovoked onslaught on Feb. 24.

But Ukraine said Saturday that Russian missiles had hit the southern Ukrainian port of Odesa, throwing that new pact into doubt.

—Matt Clinch

Russia likely struggling to repair combat vehicles, UK says

A view shows a military convoy of armed forces of the separatist self-proclaimed Luhansk People's Republic (LNR) on a road in the Luhansk region, Ukraine February 27, 2022.
Alexander Ermochenko | Reuters
A view shows a military convoy of armed forces of the separatist self-proclaimed Luhansk People's Republic (LNR) on a road in the Luhansk region, Ukraine February 27, 2022.

Posting one of its daily updates on Twitter, Britain's defense ministry said it has located a Russian military vehicle refit and refurbishment facility near Barvinok, which is in Russia's Belgorod Oblast, close to the Ukrainian border.

It added that at least 300 damaged vehicles were at the facility, which included armored personnel trucks and tanks.

"In addition to its well documented personnel problems, Russia likely continues to struggle to extract and repair the thousands of combat vehicles which have been damaged in action in Ukraine," it said in the update.

—Matt Clinch

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