Russia will pay attention to the US when “time permits”

(CNN)– In the latest developments in Russia’s war in Ukraine, Kyiv claims Russian troops are no longer able to transport heavy weapons across a key bridge in the southern Kherson region after it was repeatedly attacked by long-range Ukrainian artillery.

Ukraine’s military, meanwhile, has admitted that Russian forces have made small gains in the eastern Donetsk region, where Russia has been pressing for the past few weeks with limited success.

And Russia’s foreign minister will “heed” when “time permits” a US request that he speak with Secretary of State Antony Blinken. US officials say Blinken planned to use the call to follow up on a proposed prisoner swap.

See the main news of the Russian war in Ukraine this Friday, July 29.

Donetsk People’s Republic says 40 prisoners killed in Ukraine attack on Olenivka

Authorities in the self-proclaimed Donetsk People’s Republic (DPR) have claimed that a Ukrainian artillery attack has killed forty people in a prison.

DPR Deputy Information Minister Daniil Beznosov said on his Telegram channel that on Thursday night, Ukrainian forces attacked the Olenivka prison with the long-range HIMARS system.

“It was a direct hit on the prisoner barracks. The result to date: 40 dead, 130 injured. They are still clearing the rubble. The numbers may increase.”

The Ukrainian military tells CNN it has no information about such an attack.

CNN cannot verify Beznosov’s claims. As of 3 am ET on Friday, there was no footage of the alleged attack.

The Olenivka prison near Donetsk has been used to house many of the Ukrainian soldiers who surrendered at the Azovstal plant in Mariupol.

Beznosov said: “Ukraine’s military and political leadership has apparently decided to get rid of unnecessary dead weight.”

Know the details of the possible exchange of prisoners between the US and Russia 2:03

Lavrov “will heed” Blinken’s call request when “time permits,” Russian state media report

Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov speaks during a news conference at the United Nations headquarters on January 19, 2018 in New York City. Lavrov declared that the nuclear agreement with Iran cannot survive if the United States withdraws from the agreement. (Photo by Drew Angerer/Getty Images)

Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov will “heed” the US State Department’s request if “time permits,” a Foreign Ministry spokesman said, according to state news agency RIA Novosti. .

“Now he has a busy schedule with international contacts: the SCO Ministerial Council in Tashkent, bilateral meetings,” spokeswoman Maria Zakharova said.

The US State Department said earlier that Russia had “acknowledged” the US request for a call between Blinken and Lavrov, and that the two countries have been going back and forth on the request.

“Foreign Minister Lavrov is in the middle of a trip, so I don’t have any updates to provide in terms of when they will be able to connect,” State Department spokesman Ned Price said. “But we continue to discuss that in the appropriate channels.”

Later, Lavrov pointed out that Russia and the US are coordinating the times for the call with Blinken, according to a report by RIA Novosti. The contact “should happen when I am in my office,” the foreign minister said during a visit to Tashkent on Friday. “It is unlikely to happen today, but in the coming days we will offer our American colleagues a suitable date,” he added.

Prisoner swap: Price reiterated that Blinken planned to use the call to follow up on the “substantial proposal” to release Americans held in Russia, Brittney Griner and Paul Whelan. CNN first reported that it is a proposed prisoner swap for convicted Russian arms dealer Victor Bout.

Price suggested Thursday that Moscow has not significantly engaged with the proposal.

“The fact that now, several weeks later, we’re where we are, I think you can read it as a reflection of the fact that this hasn’t moved to the extent that we’d like it to,” Price said.

Price noted that the deal was relayed to Russia “repeatedly” and “directly” over the course of several weeks, and reiterated that Blinken intended to raise it in an expected call with Lavrov.

CNN reported Thursday that Biden administration officials are frustrated that Moscow has yet to respond in any meaningful way to the proposal. Officials told CNN they felt Moscow would take up the offer, but it’s almost August now and they haven’t received a substantive response.

Asked if the Russians had submitted any counterproposals and if the United States was prepared to add more to the deal on the table, Price said he would not “negotiate in public.”

The spokesman said the “only overriding concern” is the release of Griner and Whelan, noting that “they are going to be careful in everything we do and everything we say not to conflict with that overriding priority, to do nothing , to say nothing that could set back that ultimate goal.”

US State Department Names Russian Troll Farm, Offers $10M for Information on Election Interference

Yevgeny Prigozhin during a summit between Russian President Vladimir Putin and Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan at the Konstantin Palace outside St. Petersburg, Russia, on August 9, 2016. (Alexander Zemlianichenko/ P.A.)

The State Department on Thursday announced a reward of up to $10 million for knowledge of foreign attempts to interfere in US elections and sought information on the Internet Research Agency, a notorious Russian troll farm known for meddling. in the 2016 presidential election.

The department singled out the IRA, its leader Yevgeny Prigozhin, who is a key ally of Russian President Vladimir Putin, “and linked Russian entities and associates for their involvement in US election interference.”

Both the IRA and Prigozhin, dubbed “Putin’s chef,” are sanctioned in the United States. The troll farm used Facebook, Twitter and other social media platforms to try to sow discord and interfere in the 2016 presidential election, according to the Justice Department.

The State Department asked for “information about foreign interference in US elections” in its announcement, which comes just three months before Americans go to the polls for the midterm vote.

Lavrov “will heed” Blinken’s call request when “time permits,” Russian state media report

Russian forces make small gains in Donetsk region, Ukrainian military says

Firefighters extinguish a fire in a house that was shelled in the city of Bakhmut, Ukraine, on July 28. (Credit: Diego Herrera Carcedo/Anadolu Agency/Getty Images)

The Ukrainian military has admitted that Russian forces have made small gains near the cities of Donetsk, Soledar and Vershyna in eastern Ukraine.

Russia has been pressing in that area of ​​Donbas for the past few weeks, but with limited progress.

According to the Thursday night update of the Ukrainian General Staff, further attempts by Russian forces to “carry out assaults” in the direction of Yakovlivka, Bakhmut and Semyhiria had “failed”.

“The enemy units withdrew here with losses,” it read.

The Ukrainian military continued to report intense long-range artillery, missile and air strikes across most of the front line.

Zelensky meets with the G7 ambassadors in Ukraine, while grain exports continue without resuming

Ukraine’s President Volodymyr Zelensky and G7 ambassadors to the country met Friday at the port of Chornomorsk, near Odessa, in a show of unity following an agreement to allow grain exports to resume from the Ukrainian Black Sea ports.

Although an agreement between Ukraine and Russia for the urgent export of grains was negotiated last week, so far no ships have left, despite hopes of resuming shipments this week.

“It is important for us to continue to be the guarantors of world food security. When someone blocks the Black Sea and takes lives in other countries, we allow people to survive,” Zelensky said on his Telegram account, sharing images of the event.

“My fellow G7 ambassadors and I are in Odessa with Turkey to reiterate the importance of the UN-brokered agreement that allows food to be shipped out of Ukraine. Russia must respect the deal,” British Ambassador to Ukraine Melinda Simmons tweeted.

Martin Griffiths, the UN’s undersecretary-general for humanitarian affairs and emergency relief coordinator, said on Thursday that procedures for safe passage were still being worked out.