Russia-Ukraine live updates: Russian troops on the move, anticipating a counterattack

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(NEW YORK) — Russian President Vladimir Putin’s “special military operation” in neighboring Ukraine began Feb. 24, with Russian forces invading from Belarus in the north and Russia in the east. Ukrainian troops offered “fierce resistance”, according to US officials.

The Russian military has since launched a large-scale ground offensive in the disputed Donbass region of eastern Ukraine, capturing the strategic port city of Mariupol and securing a coastal corridor to the Crimean peninsula annexed to Moscow.

Here’s how the news evolves. All times Eastern:

August 01, 2:36 p.m. EDT
US announces new round of aid to Ukraine

The United States is sending a 17th round of aid to Ukraine, consisting of more ammunition for the HIMARS rocket and howitzer systems, White House spokesman John Kirby announced.

This aid comes from the Presidential Withdrawal Authority, separate from any aid voted by Congress.

The package totals $550 million and brings total US presidential aid to Ukraine since February to $8.8 billion.

-Luis Martinez and Sarah Kolinovsky of ABC News

August 01, 9:14 a.m. EDT
Russian troops on the move ahead of the expected Ukrainian counter-offensive

Ukraine’s armed forces said on Monday that Russian troops were massing towards the town of Kryvyi Rih in the Dnipropetrovsk region, possibly in preparation for a broad Ukrainian counterattack.

Talks of a major Ukrainian counter-offensive aimed at retaking the southern city of Kherson, about 220 km south of Kryvyi Rih, have been gathering pace for several weeks.

Ukraine’s military also issued the highest missile threat alert on Sunday in response to Russian troops gathering in the Black Sea.

At least 17 warships and boats from Russia’s Black Sea Fleet were maneuvering near the Crimean coast on Sunday, according to Ukrainian military officials.

Among them were six Kalibr cruise missile carriers with more than 40 high-precision missiles on board, as well as four large landing ships.

Russia has also transferred large numbers of troops to occupied Crimea, Vadym Skibitskyi of Ukraine’s Defense Ministry said Monday.

Russia plans to deploy those troops to southern Ukraine for future combat operations, Skibitskyi said.

The official added that Russia withdrew tactical groups of airborne troops from the eastern Donetsk region and transferred them to occupied Kherson about two weeks ago.

Russian forces resumed localized ground attacks northwest and southwest of Izyum over the weekend and could establish the conditions for offensive operations further west in Kharkiv Oblast or towards the city ​​of Kharkiv, the Institute for the Study of War said in its latest report.

– ABC News’ Edward Szekeres, Yulia Drozd and Max Uzol

August 01, 9:09 a.m. EDT
A ‘day of relief for the world’ as Ukrainian grain shipments resume

Ukrainian Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba called Monday “a day of relief for the world” as his country resumed grain shipments for the first time since the start of the Russian offensive.

“A day of relief for the world, especially for our friends in the Middle East, Asia and Africa, as the first grain of Ukraine leaves Odessa after months of Russian blockade,” Kuleba wrote in a post on Twitter. “Ukraine has always been a reliable partner and will remain so if Russia keeps its part of the deal.”

August 01, 4:12 a.m. EDT
Ukrainian lawmaker hails departure of first grain ship as ‘historic moment’

Watching the first ship carrying Ukrainian grain leave the port of Odessa on Monday morning, Ukrainian lawmaker Oleksiy Honcharenko called it “a victory for Ukraine” over Russia.

Honcharenko, the son of a former mayor of Odessa, said this “historic moment” was only possible because Ukraine had inflicted so much damage on the Russian Navy and liberated nearby Snake Island, forcing Russian President Vladimir Putin to reach a deal.

“It shows again that the language of force is the only language Putin understands,” Honcharenko told ABC News.

Honcharenko said he thinks another 16 ships from the port will start going out in the next few days. But he warned that he thinks Putin will now try to do everything to keep the entry and exit of ships to a minimum under the UN-brokered deal, using airstrikes near Ukrainian ports and trying to invent bureaucratic obstacles.

The next big test of the deal will be when the first ships enter Odessa, which Honcharenko says is expected at the end of this week.

– ABC News’ Dragana Jovanovic, Oleksii Pshemyskiy and Patrick Reevell

August 01, 3:47 a.m. EDT
The first ship carrying Ukrainian grain leaves the port of Odessa

The first ship carrying Ukrainian grain left Odessa on Monday morning as part of an internationally brokered deal to ease a global hunger crisis.

The Sierra Leone-flagged freighter Razoni has left the Ukrainian port city and is heading for Lebanon, a small Middle Eastern country that imports almost all of its grain and lacks storage space after an explosion in 2020 destroyed grain silos in its main port of Beirut. The ship is expected to reach Istanbul on Tuesday, where it will be inspected before being allowed to proceed to Tripoli, according to a statement from the Turkish National Defense Ministry.

Razoni, which is carrying 26,527 tonnes of corn, is the first commercial ship to depart from the Ukrainian port of Odessa since Feb. 26 and the first ship to depart under the so-called Black Sea Grain Initiative, according to a statement from the spokesperson. for the Secretary General of the United Nations. Last month, Russia and Ukraine signed separate agreements with Turkey and the UN to allow Ukraine to resume shipping Black Sea grain to world markets and for Russia to export cereals and fertilizers.

Since Russian forces invaded neighboring Ukraine on February 24, the cost of grain, fertilizer and fuel has skyrocketed around the world. Russia and Ukraine – often referred to collectively as the breadbasket of Europe – produce a third of the world’s wheat and barley supply, but a Russian blockade in the Black Sea combined with Ukrainian naval mines has made it virtually impossible to export of cereals and other foodstuffs in silos. As a result, millions of people around the world, especially in Africa and the Middle East, are now on the brink of starvation.

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