Russia’s president calls for Western sanctions to be lifted. Saxony’s Prime Minister Michael Kretschmer caused criticism with his statement that Germany, as a mediator, should ensure that the Ukraine war is frozen. All voices and developments on the Ukraine war here in the ticker.
7.16 a.m .: After the statements made by Saxony’s Prime Minister Michael Kretschmer on the Ukraine war, the outgoing Ukrainian ambassador Andriy Melnyk sharply criticized Twitter. “We have to work to ensure that this war is frozen,” Kretschmer said, calling for Germany to play a mediating role in the war, including rethinking sanctions against Russia.
Melnyk’s sharp reply: “Ukrainians advocate sticking your head in a freezer to freeze your hot Russia fantasies,” the ambassador tweeted. “Your constant pandering to war criminal Putin is disgusting.”
6:06 a.m .: The military and security policy expert Carlo Masala expects that Russia will stop gas supplies in the fall at the earliest and that the Nord Stream 1 pipeline will soon be released again. “I believe that Putin is not turning off the gas at this point in time, but is letting it continue to run at a reduced rate,” the Munich professor told the “Augsburger Allgemeine” (Wednesday edition). “It is more likely that Russia will stop gas supplies in the fall,” Masala warned. This could allow Russian President Vladimir Putin to put more pressure on European politics.
“By autumn, Russia could succeed in gaining military control over the entire Donbass,” said the professor at the Bundeswehr University in Munich. “Then Putin could offer a ceasefire on his terms,” Masala said. “In this mixed situation – high inflation, missing gas supplies plus the concrete offer of a ceasefire – there is a great danger that the social mood in Europe will tilt in order to make concessions to Russia,” he warned.
6:01 a.m .: According to Russian President Vladimir Putin, the Russian gas company Gazprom will “fully” fulfill its obligations. “Gazprom has fulfilled its obligations, is fulfilling them now and will continue to fulfill them in the future,” Putin said after a summit with Turkey and Iran in Tehran on Tuesday. Against the background of the Ukraine conflict and Western sanctions, Gazprom recently significantly reduced deliveries to Europe.
Hardly any Russian gas has flowed to Germany since July 11 because the Baltic Sea pipeline Nord Stream 1 is out of service for maintenance work. It is feared that Gazprom could keep the gas tap closed even after the work has been completed, which Berlin estimates will take about ten days.
In Tehran, in the debate about the blockade of Ukrainian grain exports, Putin called for Western sanctions on Russian grain exports to be lifted: “We will facilitate the export of Ukrainian grain, but we assume that all restrictions related to air freight deliveries for the export of Russian grain,” he said.
Wednesday, July 20, 2:40 a.m.: In the midst of the energy crisis, Kremlin chief Vladimir Putin warns Europe against further reducing Russian gas supplies. If Russia does not get back a turbine for the Nord Stream 1 Baltic Sea pipeline that was repaired in Canada, the daily throughput capacity of the pipeline threatens to fall again significantly at the end of July, Putin said on Wednesday night, according to the Russian state news agency Tass. “We still have a finished route – that’s Nord Stream 2. We can put it into operation,” Putin added.
The Nord Stream 1 pipeline – the most important gas pipeline from Russia to Germany – was put into operation in 2011 and has a capacity of around 55 billion cubic meters per year. Since June, however, Russia’s state energy giant Gazprom has reduced gas deliveries to Germany by more than half the daily maximum to 67 million cubic meters. This was justified with the missing turbine from Siemens Energy, which Federal Chancellor Olaf Scholz (SPD) criticized as a pretense. The pipeline, which is more than 1,200 kilometers long, is currently completely shut down for annual maintenance work – until Thursday as planned.
10:26 p.m .: The US government assumes that Russia wants to annex more areas of Ukraine. The model was the action on the Black Sea peninsula of Crimea in 2014, said the Communications Director of the National Security Council in the White House, John Kirby, on Tuesday. Intelligence information indicated that Russia wanted to hold “sham referendums”. According to Kirby, Russian bank branches are to be set up in the affected regions in order to introduce the ruble as a currency there.
Internet access should also be checked. Moscow also wants to force people to apply for Russian citizenship. “The Kremlin has not announced the schedule for the referendums, but Russian officials in those areas claim they will take place later this year, possibly in conjunction with September’s Russian regional elections,” Kirby said. The regions affected include the Cherson and Zaporizhia regions, as well as the entire Luhansk and Donetsk regions.
The Kremlin has not yet confirmed such plans. However, the administrations deployed by Russia in the occupied territories have repeatedly stated that they want to hold referendums on accession to Russia. In the Zaporizhia region in south-eastern Ukraine, a date was set for early September. In Cherson, southern Ukraine, the Russian occupiers used the ruble as a means of payment in May in order to integrate the region more closely into their own economic area.
9:23 p.m .: After the Saxon Prime Minister Michael Kretschmer (CDU) demanded that Germany should play a mediating role (see entry 3:35 p.m.) in order to “freeze” the war, criticism of his statement became louder. Also from our own ranks: The Saxon MP and party colleague Matthias Hauer (CDU) wrote on Twitter that Kretschmer’s position was not one, since only Putin could freeze his aggressive war. “Anyone who suggests (like Kretschmer) that other countries could do it is being taken in by Russian propaganda. It’s good that the position of the CDU and CSU is clear (different) on this,” said Hauer. The state chairman of the CDU Berlin, Kai Wegner, also wrote on Twitter that Kretschmer knew that peace and security were not possible with Putin.
The parliamentary group leader of the FDP in North Rhine-Westphalia, Henning Höne, wrote on Twitter: “Not Germany and Europe, but Michael Kretschmer must clarify his position on the war in Ukraine”. Foreign politician Jamila Schäfer (Greens) is clear in her criticism: “This proposal damages the reputation of the Federal Republic of Germany,” she told the “Bild” newspaper. Kretschmer’s advance testifies to “dangerous ignorance”. FDP General Secretary Bijan Djir-Sarai also expressed his dismay. “Thank God this man is not responsible for our foreign policy,” he told the “Bild”. Kretschmer has “obviously not understood to this day how dangerous Russia is and how important support for Ukraine is.” Users on social media also criticize that Kretschmer did not understand anything.
7:53 p.m .: Russian President Vladimir Putin sees progress in negotiations on resuming blocked grain deliveries from Ukraine. “With your help, we have moved forward,” Putin told Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan in Tehran on Tuesday, according to the Kremlin. Turkey is trying to mediate between Ukraine and Russia. “Not all problems have been solved yet, but it is good that there is movement,” said Putin.
The two heads of state met Iranian President Ebrahim Raisi for a summit in Tehran, primarily to discuss the situation in Syria. However, a bilateral meeting between Putin and Erdogan was also on the agenda, at which the export of grain blocked in Ukrainian ports was discussed. It was the first meeting between Putin and Erdogan since the beginning of the Ukraine war, in which Erdogan had repeatedly offered to mediate.
5:05 p.m .: The European Union could partially relax its sanctions on Russian banks so as not to affect the global food supply. According to a proposal by the EU Commission, which is available to the AFP news agency, blocked Russian bank funds could be released again if they finance trade in grain or fertilizers. Ukraine had warned the EU against making concessions to Moscow.
EU countries wanted to “make it clear that the sanctions will in no way impede the movement of grain from Russia or Ukraine,” a diplomat said in Brussels. This is Brussels’ response to warnings of famine, especially from African countries.
According to diplomats, the EU states want to formally adopt the revised sanctions on Wednesday. They also provide for a ban on imports of Russian gold into the EU. Because of the small amounts, it has more of a symbolic character.
3.35 p.m .: According to the Prime Minister of Saxony Michael Kretschmer (CDU), Germany must play a mediating role in Russia’s war against Ukraine. The head of government justified this on Tuesday primarily with the size of the country and its history. One was very involved in the European association, but had to play a central role in resolving the conflict together with France, the USA and other countries. “We have to work to ensure that this war is frozen.” It’s about gaining time to be able to invest in security measures.
According to Kretschmer, Germany and Europe must clarify their position on this war. He currently understands the statements that firstly it is about winning the war and secondly never again buying raw materials from Russia. If that is the attitude, there will be no ceasefire negotiations. The current discussion is currently “very one-sided”.
“I firmly believe that we need these supplies of raw materials. Secondly, I am of the opinion that we must try together (…) to have an effect on the Russian President and also to convince Ukraine that we all have to freeze this conflict together. That’s different from what’s going on at the moment.” One has to recognize that the war is throwing the entire world, and Europe in particular, into chaos. If the war continues like this, there is a risk of losing the economic power needed to organize security and remain competitive.
3:15 p.m .: The EU apparently does not assume that the Nord Stream 1 Baltic Sea pipeline will go back into operation after its ten-day maintenance. This is reported by the “Wall Street Journal” with reference to EU Budget Commissioner Johannes Hahn. “We are working on the assumption that it will not go back into operation,” Hahn told journalists in Singapore. The EU Commission then explained that the EU’s newly developed gas emergency plan also provides for the scenario if deliveries from Russia fail completely. “We are basing our winter preparation plans on the worst-case scenario,” a spokesman said Tuesday. No Russian gas has flowed through the pipeline since last week due to annual maintenance work. Its reopening is actually planned for next Thursday.
12:13 p.m .: The former head of the Kremlin, Dmitry Medvedev, has accused the West of political impotence and has again shown himself confident of victory with regard to Russia’s war in Ukraine. “Russia is achieving all the goals set. And there will be peace. On our terms,” the deputy chief of the Russian Security Council wrote in his blog on the Telegram news channel on Tuesday. There will be no agreement on the conditions of the “politically impotent” in the EU and the US, he said.
Once again, the former Russian president also criticized the US for supplying arms to Ukraine “uncontrolled”. “The United States needs a new Afghanistan, which Ukraine is now being deliberately made into.” Arms dealers in the United States and Ukraine would stuff their pockets, he wrote. There is a risk that the systems and munitions could fall into the hands of criminals around the world, he warned. “For the terrorists and the radicals, there will be more lethal types of weaponry.”
However, the Ministry of Defense announced in its new situation report on the war in Ukraine that Russian attacks in Odessa on the Black Sea had destroyed further warehouses with ammunition from the USA and European countries. Depots in the Donetsk, Zaporizhia and Dnipropetrovsk regions were also said to have been destroyed. The information could not be independently verified.
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