Russia-Ukraine war live news: Moscow moving troops towards Kherson, Zelenskiy says; first grain shipment to leave Ukraine today, Turkey says | Russia

First grain-exporting ship to leave Ukraine port today, Turkey says

The first ship to export Ukrainian grain will depart from Ukrainian ports at 8.30am today, according to the Turkey’s Ministry of Defence.

The ministry issued an announcement at 7.30am local time, saying: “The first ship from Ukrainian ports will depart today at 8:30.”

The first ships will arrive in Istanbul port on Wednesday 3 August en route to Africa, according to CNN.

Key events

Zelenskiy urges civilians to flee eastern Donetsk

Volodymyr Zelenskiy has urged civilians to evacuate the frontline Donetsk region, the scene of fierce clashes with the Russian military, as Kyiv called on the Red Cross and UN to gain access to its soldiers being held by Moscow’s forces.

Ukraine’s president warned in his daily address that hundreds of thousands of people, including tens of thousands of children, were still in the region’s battleground areas, with the Donetsk governor saying six civilians were killed and 15 wounded on Friday.

He asked those who knew people still in the Donbas region – especially those with children – to speak to them about leaving. “Many people refuse to leave .. but it really needs to be done … The sooner it is done, the more people leave Donetsk region now, the fewer people the Russian army will have time to kill,” he said.

“Leave, we will help,” Zelenskiy said. “At this stage of the war, terror is the main weapon of Russia.”

A mandatory evacuation notice posted on Saturday evening said the coming winter made it a matter of urgency, particularly for the more than 50,000 children still in the region.

“They need to be evacuated, you cannot put them in mortal danger in the winter without heating, light, without the ability to keep them warm,” Kyiv’s Ministry of Reintegration of Temporarily Occupied Territories said in a statement.

Russia re-allocating forces from Donbas to southern Ukraine: UK MoD

Russia is likely re-allocating a significant number of its forces from the northern Donbas sector to southern Ukraine, the UK Ministry of Defence has said.

The latest intelligence report reads:

Over the last four days, Russia has continued to attempt tactical assaults on the Bakhmut axis, northeast of Donetsk, only managing to make slow progress.

Russia is probably adjusting the operational design of its Donbas offensive after failing to make a decisive operational breakthrough under the plan it had been following since April.

It has likely identified its Zaporizhzhia front as a vulnerable area in need of reinforcement.”

Mykolaiv attack one of the ‘most brutal’ on region in war so far

Russia appears to be stepping up its offensive on regions in Ukraine’s south.

The mayor of the southern city of Mykolaiv said two people were killed and three wounded after rockets pounded two residential districts on Sunday night.

Oleksandr Senkevych said the strikes were “probably the most powerful of the entire time [of the war]”.

Ukraine’s president, Volodymyr Zelenskiy, also addressed the attack in his latest national address:

Today, one of the most brutal shellings of Mykolaiv and the region over the entire period of the full-scale war took place. Dozens of missiles and rockets… The occupiers hit residential buildings, schools, other social infrastructure, and industrial facilities.”

A war crimes prosecutor examines the damage in a destroyed building, as Russia’s attack on Ukraine continues, following shelling in Mykolaiv, Ukraine, on 31 July. Photograph: Press Service Of The Mykolaiv Regional Prosecutor’S Office/Reuters

The Russian attack also reportedly took the lives of Oleksiy Vadaturskyi, 74, and his wife Raisa, the founder of one of the largest Ukrainian agricultural companies ‘Nibulon’.

An adviser to the Ukrainian president has said he believes the leading Ukrainian agricultural magnate Oleksiy Vadatursky was deliberately killed when a missile struck their home in the southern city.

Mykhailo Podolyak said a missile hit the businessman’s bedroom, which he said “leaves no doubt” it was a targeted attack.

First grain-exporting ship to leave Ukraine port today, Turkey says

The first ship to export Ukrainian grain will depart from Ukrainian ports at 8.30am today, according to the Turkey’s Ministry of Defence.

The ministry issued an announcement at 7.30am local time, saying: “The first ship from Ukrainian ports will depart today at 8:30.”

The first ships will arrive in Istanbul port on Wednesday 3 August en route to Africa, according to CNN.

Two people have reportedly been injured as a result of shelling this morning in Ukraine’s second-largest city of Kharkiv.

The head of the regional state administration, Oleg Synegubov, said Russia attacked the Saltiv district of the northeastern city and urged residents to stay in shelters in a Telegram post just before 8.30am on Monday.

Citing information from the regional centre for emergency medical assistance, he said two people were injured as a result of the shelling.

UK property register cracks down on oligarchs

Britain will now require foreign companies holding UK property to identify their true owners in an official register as part of a crackdown on Russian oligarchs and corrupt elites laundering illicit wealth.

The register of overseas entities, which becomes active from today, is part of a wider economic crime law enacted this year in an effort to stop the flow of illicit Russian cash into London following Moscow’s invasion of Ukraine.

It will seek to ensure criminals cannot hide behind secretive chains of shell companies, and support government efforts to root out Russian oligarchs using property in Britain to hide dirty money, the business ministry said in a statement. Junior business minister Martin Callanan said:

To ensure we are free of corrupt elites with suspicious wealth, we need to know who owns what.

We are lifting the curtain and cracking down on those criminals attempting to hide their illicitly obtained wealth.”

Belgravia mansions at Eaton Square, also known as ‘Londongrad’, in London.
Belgravia mansions at Eaton Square, also known as ‘Londongrad’, in London. Photograph: Andy Rain/EPA

Foreign entities that already own land in the UK that is within the scope of the register will have six months to comply by identifying their beneficial owner to Companies House.

The register will apply to property bought since January 1999 in England and Wales, and since December 2014 in Scotland.

Those not complying with the new rules could face sanctions including fines of up to £2,500 ($3,043) per day or five years in prison.

The register has been described as a significant provision of the economic crime law, with a Transparency International official in March calling the step a “seismic change” that will force foreign property ownership into the open.

The law was brought in in March as the government faced calls to do more to make it harder for those close to Russian President Vladimir Putin to launder dirty money through property in London, long dubbed by some as “Londongrad”.

Russia bolsters troops in Ukraine’s south

Russia is moving large numbers of troops to Ukraine’s south for battles against the country’s forces through the newly occupied territories and Crimea, according to Ukraine’s deputy head of military intelligence.

If Russia won, it would try to capture more territory, said Vadym Skibitsky. “They are increasing their troop numbers, preparing for our counteroffensive [in Ukraine’s south] and perhaps preparing to launch an offensive of their own. The south is key for them, above all because of Crimea,” he said.

A Russian military truck drives past an unexploded munition in the village of Chornobaivka, Kherson region, Ukraine.
A Russian military truck drives past an unexploded munition in the village of Chornobaivka, Kherson region, Ukraine. Photograph: Alexander Ermochenko/Reuters

Ukraine’s president Volodymyr Zelenskiy corroborated these reports in his latest national address, saying Russia was relocating troops from the east to the south of Ukraine in order to push towards Kherson’s regional capital as well as the Zaporizhzhia region.

“Now the Russian army is trying to strengthen its positions in the occupied areas of the south of our country, increasing activity in the relevant areas,” he said, adding that “strategically, Russia has no chance of winning this war”.

The fight for forest lines along the fields – this is what position war in the South of Ukraine is like now.

There forests are almost thick as Vietnam jungle. This is where the most violent battles take place face to face between our Heroes and Russians.#UkraineRussianWar pic.twitter.com/txRm4QCIas

— Anton Gerashchenko (@Gerashchenko_en) July 31, 2022

Russian troop movements come in response to Ukraine’s declared counteroffensive to liberate the southern occupied regions of Kherson and Zaporizhzhia.

Ukrainian forces have retaken dozens of villages and towns along the border, according to the region’s military governor, Dmytro Butrii, and are pushing towards Kherson’s regional capital.

Summary and welcome

Hello and welcome back to the Guardian’s live coverage of the war in Ukraine.

I’m Samantha Lock and I will be bringing you all the latest developments for the next short while.

According to multiple Ukrainian officials, Russia is moving large numbers of troops to Ukraine’s south where battles are expected to intensify.

From today, Britain will now require foreign companies holding UK property to identify their true owners as part of a crackdown on Russian oligarchs and corrupt elites laundering illicit wealth.

It is 8am in Ukraine. Here is everything you might have missed:

  • Russia is moving large numbers of troops to Ukraine’s south in preparation for a Ukrainian counteroffensive, according to Ukraine’s deputy head of military intelligence. “They are increasing their troop numbers, preparing for our counteroffensive [in Ukraine’s south] and perhaps preparing to launch an offensive of their own,” Vadym Skibitsky said. The Ukrainian president, Volodymyr Zelenskiy, said Russia was relocating some of its troops from their positions in the east to the south in order to push towards Kherson’s regional capital as well as the Zaporizhzhia region.
  • Hundreds of thousands of civilians have been urged to evacuate the frontline eastern Donetsk region, the scene of fierce clashes with the Russian military. More than 50,000 children are still in the region, according to local officials. “They need to be evacuated, you cannot put them in mortal danger in the winter without heating, light, without the ability to keep them warm,” Kyiv’s ministry of reintegration of temporarily occupied territories said in a statement.
  • Russia claims five people were injured after a Ukrainian drone strike on its Black Sea fleet headquarters, prompting officials to cancel festivities planned for Navy Day. “Early this morning, [Ukraine] decided to spoil our Navy Day,” said Mikhail Razvozhayev, the head of the local Russian administration in Sevastopol in Crimea. “An unidentified object flew into the yard of the fleet headquarters. According to preliminary data, it was a drone. Five people were injured.”
  • Russian strikes hit the southern Ukrainian port city of Mykolaiv early on Sunday, wounding three people and damaging homes and schools, according to the city’s mayor, Oleksandr Senkevych. Zelenskiy described the strikes as “probably the most brutal” on the city and region of the entire war.
  • Russian shelling on Mykolaiv reportedly killed one of Ukraine’s wealthiest men, Oleksiy Vadatursky, and his wife, Raisa. Vadatursky headed the grain production and export business Nibulon, which included a fleet of ships for sending grain abroad. A presidential adviser, Mykhailo Podolyak, said Vadatursky was specifically targeted and his death was “not an accident, but a well-thought-out and organised premeditated murder”.
  • Two-hundred Russian marines from the 810th naval infantry brigade refused to return to fight in the southern regions of Ukraine, according to Ukraine’s defence ministry intelligence directorate.
  • Ukraine’s harvest this year could be half its usual amount because of the Russian invasion, Zelenskiy claimed. “Ukrainian harvest this year is under the threat to be twice less,” the Ukrainian president said in comments likely to intensify fears of global hunger.
  • The first grain-exporting ship could leave Ukraine’s ports on Monday, a spokesperson for the Turkish president, Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, said. Speaking in an interview with broadcaster Kanal 7, Ibrahim Kalin said the joint coordination centre in Istanbul would probably complete the final work on the exporting routes very soon.
  • Britain will now require foreign companies holding UK property to identify their true owners as part of a crackdown on Russian oligarchs and corrupt elites laundering illicit wealth. The Register of Overseas Entities will seek to ensure criminals cannot hide behind secretive chains of shell companies or use property in Britain to hide dirty money, the business ministry said in a statement on Monday.
A woman gathers her belongings from a heavily damaged residential building in Saltivka, a northern district of the second largest Ukrainian city of Kharkiv on 31 July.
A woman gathers her belongings from a heavily damaged residential building in Saltivka, a northern district of the second largest Ukrainian city of Kharkiv on 31 July. Photograph: Genya Savilov/AFP/Getty Images