January 15, 2023 Russia-Ukraine news

By Sophie Tanno, Matt Meyer, Mike Hayes and Maureen Chowdhury, CNN

Updated 1:15 a.m. ET, January 16, 2023
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5:47 a.m. ET, January 15, 2023

Russian missile that hit Dnipro apartment block was "no doubt" a Kh-22 missile, says Ukrainian Air Force Command

From CNN's Tim Lister

An emergency worker views the site of a residential building hit by a Russian missile on Sunday in Dnipro.
An emergency worker views the site of a residential building hit by a Russian missile on Sunday in Dnipro. (Yevhenii Zavhorodnii/Global Images Ukraine/Getty Images)

The Russian missile that hit an apartment block in Dnipro on Saturday was "no doubt" a Kh-22 missile, the Air Force Command of the Ukranian Armed forces said Sunday on its Facebook page.

"[A] Radar detected the approximate launch site, altitude, and flight speed. There is no doubt that it was an X-22 [Kh-22] missile," it said.

"The Armed Forces of Ukraine lack the firepower capabilities for shooting down this type of missile. Since the beginning of Russia's military aggression, more than 210 missiles of this type have been launched at the territory of Ukraine. None of them have been shot down by our air defense systems," the post added.

Yurii Ihnat, spokesman for the Ukrainian air force, said the Kh-22 "was fired from a Tu-22M3 long-range bomber, launched from the area near Kursk and the Sea of Azov."

"There were a total of five launches of these missiles," Ihnat said.

Speaking of Saturday's attack, Ihnat said: "They hit with such a missile a densely populated city with people, women, children. There is no explanation and justification for this terrorist act." 

Originally designed as an anti-ship missile, the Kh-22 is an older and less accurate weapon than most modern missiles. But Western analysts say it is only accurate to a radius of about 500 meters (about 1,600 feet).

CNN reported last June that it was also a Kh-22 that hit a shopping center in Kremenchuk in central Ukraine.

The Russian Defense Ministry said the target in June was a facility that repaired military vehicles, which was several hundred meters from the shopping center. At least 18 people were killed in that attack.

The death toll from the Russian missile strike on an apartment block in Dnipro rose to 20 on Sunday, the day after missiles and explosions were heard across the country.

At least 73 people were wounded in the attack on the nine-story apartment building, including four who are in critical condition, Valentyn Reznichenko, the head of the Dnipropetrovsk regional military administration said.

9:43 a.m. ET, January 15, 2023

How Ukraine became a laboratory for Western weapons and battlefield innovation

From CNN's Katie Bo Lillis and Oren Liebermann

Ukrainian soldiers fire a projectile from a self-propelled cannon on the front line in Bakhmut on December 26, 2022.
Ukrainian soldiers fire a projectile from a self-propelled cannon on the front line in Bakhmut on December 26, 2022. (Clodagh Kilcoyne/Reuters)

Last fall, as Ukraine won back large swaths of territory in a series of counterattacks, it pounded Russian forces with American-made artillery and rockets.

Guiding some of that artillery was a homemade targeting system that Ukraine developed on the battlefield.

A piece of Ukrainian-made software has turned readily available tablet computers and smartphones into sophisticated targeting tools that are now used widely across the Ukrainian military.

The result is a mobile app that feeds satellite and other intelligence imagery into a real-time targeting algorithm that helps units near the front direct fire onto specific targets.

The targeting app is among dozens of examples of battlefield innovations that Ukraine has come up with over nearly a year of war, often finding cheap fixes to expensive problems.

Ukraine has even developed its own anti-ship weapon, the Neptune, based on Soviet rocket designs that can target the Russian fleet from almost 200 miles away.

Read more on Ukraine's battlefield innovation here.

3:58 a.m. ET, January 15, 2023

Wagner leader posts video claiming victory in Soledar as Ukraine asserts that fighting continues

From CNN's Mariya Knight

Yevgeny Prigozhin, Wagner group founder, attends a meeting in St. Petersburg on June 16, 2016.
Yevgeny Prigozhin, Wagner group founder, attends a meeting in St. Petersburg on June 16, 2016. (Mikhail Svetlov/Getty Images/FILE)

The founder and head of Wagner, Yevgeny Prigozhin, posted a video Saturday claiming he visited Soledar after it was taken over by his mercenaries "in two weeks."

Kyiv has disputed Wagner's claim that it now controls the small town, which holds significant symbolic value but is not considered strategically pivotal. The town has also caused infighting between Prigozhin's private forces and Russia's Defense Ministry over who deserves credit for the assault.

In the video, the Wagner mercenary leader said he came to town to award medals to his fighters — who he says were almost exclusively responsible for capturing Soledar.

The video shows Prigozhin standing with a man who he calls “a commander who helped to take over Soledar.”

“Soledar was taken over in two weeks,” Prigozhin said. “Soledar was squeezed by our claws and then was divided into parts. You can’t eat an elephant all at once, like they say. You have to cut it in parts.”

According to Prigozhin, Ukrainian soldiers who refused to surrender were killed. He said, “the bodies of Ukrainian soldiers will be sent back to their motherland.”

The private military contractor has heavily recruited from Russian prisons over the last nine months. Previously it has deployed contingents to Syria and several African countries. 

Prigozhin credited what he described as a wealth of fighting equipment and communications systems for giving his force an edge in battle.

What Ukraine is saying: Kyiv's military has said that Wagner fighters, some without body armor and carrying only grenades, have been killed in their hundreds after launching one assault after another against Soledar. 

The Ukrainian military said late Saturday that heavy battles for the town continue, with one regional leader describing the situation as "difficult but controlled."

More on Wagner's leader: Prigozhin has been an increasingly visible figure in the conflict in Ukraine, visiting Wagner fighters on the front line and meeting former convicts who have completed their six-month tour of duty with Wagner. Prigozhin had promised them that in return for fighting they would be pardoned and be able to return home, rather than to prison. 

He has frequently contrasted the achievements of his Wagner fighters with what he has criticized as the poor leadership of the military establishment in Russia — a rare example of open disagreement within Russia about the conduct of the Ukraine campaign.