Russia launched strike on Odesa

For the second consecutive day, Russian forces targeted Odesa. Two people were hospitalised after a Russian attack on July 20 damaged a building and caused a fire in an area of 300 square meters, according to Odesa Oblast Governor Oleh Kiper.

Another attack was reported outside the city, Kiper said on Telegram. He didn't provide further details.

Air raid alert was on in Odesa Oblast for almost two hours. Ukraine’s Air Force warned early on July 20 that supersonic missiles had been launched by Russia in the direction of the Odesa region. It called on people to take shelter.

On July 18, Russia targeted the port city with six Kalibr missiles, which Kremlin spokesperson Dmitry Peskov claimed was "retaliation" for the earlier attack on the Crimean Bridge. Ukrainian air defense shoot down all six Kalibr missiles targeting Odesa, according to the Air Force.

Although no part of Odesa Oblast has ever been occupied by Russian troops, it has been regularly targeted with shelling and confronted with severe air strikes.

Polish PM: Poland will 'not open border' to Ukrainian grain if EU ban not extended

Poland will not open its borders to Ukrainian grain imports if the EU ban is not extended beyond Sep. 15, Polish Prime Minister Mateusz Morawiecki said on July 19, as cited by the Polish Press Agency (PAP).

"Either appropriate mechanisms and appropriate regulations will be developed after Sep. 15 to prevent the destabilization of Polish markets and the import of agricultural products that are currently banned, or the Polish government...will implement (the ban) unilaterally, or with our friends from other countries," Morawiecki said.

The ministers of Poland, Slovakia, Hungary, Romania, and Bulgaria signed a joint declaration in Warsaw on July 19, with the intention to ask the European Commission for a ban extension on domestic sales of Ukrainian wheat, maize, rapeseed, and sunflower seeds at least until the end of 2023, Reuters reported.

The news agency added that the measure should include the option to add individual products to the ban list. Morawiecki said that if there is an excessive import of Ukrainian products other than the four named commodities, it will also be blocked.

The five countries are however open to continuing the transit of Ukrainian produce.

"Poles earn money on transit, it does not threaten to destabilize the internal market, which is why we facilitate this export and enable transit," PAP cited the Polish prime minister.

Morawiecki stressed that this is not a move against Ukrainians but for the protection of domestic farmers.

"Everything that is bad for Polish agriculture must be either blocked, changed, or compensated. This is the position of the government of the Republic of Poland," he emphasized.

19 injured in Russian strike against Mykolaiv

The Russian strike against the city of Mykolaiv in the early hours of July 20 left 19 people injured, Governor Vitalii Kim reported.

This number includes at least five children, Kim specified. Eight people sought medical help and two, including a child, are hospitalized, he added.

According to the governor, Russian forces launched a missile strike against the southern Ukrainian city around 3:03 a.m. local time.

Several floors of a three-story building were damaged and a fire broke out in an area of 450 square meters, which was put out at 7:45, Kim reported. Neighboring high-rise buildings were also damaged, he added.

Based on the report, fire erupted also in three garages, but it was quickly extinguished. About 15 more garages were damaged and windows were broken in several high-rise buildings nearby, Kim informed.

Mykolaiv Oblast is a frequent target of Russian strikes and primarily suffers from Shahed-type drones and Kalibr cruise missiles. The town of Ochakiv sustained several strikes over the past 24 hours, damaging a five-story building and leaving one man injured, the governor reported.

Russia considers attacking ships in Black Sea, blaming Ukraine

Russia is considering attacking civilian ships on the Black Sea and putting the blame on Ukraine, U.S. National Security Council spokesperson Adam Hodge said on July 19.

The information is based on declassified intelligence, the Associated Press cited the official.

Hodge supported Kyiv's claim that recent Russian strikes against the city port of Odesa targeted agricultural infrastructure and destroyed 60,000 tons of grain.

According to the White House official, Russian forces laid additional sea mines in approaches toward Ukrainian ports. Hodge pointed out a recent video released by Moscow showing the detection and liquidation of an alleged Ukrainian sea mine.

"We believe that this is a coordinated effort to justify any attacks against civilian ships in the Black Sea and lay blame on Ukraine for these attacks," the official said.

The Russian Defense Ministry declared on July 19 that as of July 20, all vessels sailing to Ukrainian ports will be considered military targets.

Russia pulled out of the Black Sea Grain Initiative on July 17, sparking international condemnation and fears of rising food prices.  The deal, brokered by Turkey and the U.N. in July 2022, allowed Ukraine to export its agricultural products during the ongoing full-scale Russian invasion.

On July 19, Ukrainian authorities reported that Russian attacks on port infrastructure in Odesa Oblast have destroyed 60,000 tons of grain. The city suffered three consecutive strikes over the course of the past three days.

"This is a terrorist act not against Ukraine, but against the whole world," said Ukrainian Agriculture Minister Mykola Solskyi. "If we cannot export food, then the population of the poorest countries will be on the verge of survival."

"Every Russian missile is a blow not only to Ukraine but also to everyone in the world who seeks a normal and safe life," President Volodymyr Zelensky commented on the Russian attacks against the city.