January 17, 2023 Russia-Ukraine news

By Kathleen Magramo, Sana Noor Haq, Aditi Sangal, Adrienne Vogt, Leinz Vales, Maureen Chowdhury and Tori B. Powell, CNN

Updated 12:43 a.m. ET, January 18, 2023
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8:35 p.m. ET, January 17, 2023

"We are playing for Ukraine": Soccer club CEO discusses the challenges of playing during wartime

From CNN's Don Riddell

The Shakhtar Donetsk players line up before the UEFA Champions League group F match at Celtic Park, Glasgow, on October 25, 2022.
The Shakhtar Donetsk players line up before the UEFA Champions League group F match at Celtic Park, Glasgow, on October 25, 2022. (Andrew Milligan/PA Wire/AP/FILE)

Ukrainian soccer club Shakhtar Donetsk on Monday launched a $25 million project to support the defenders of Mariupol and their families.

The "Heart of Azovstal" initiative comes after the club sold star player Mykhailo Mudryk to English Premier League side Chelsea. Azovstal is a reference to the massive steelworks plant in Mariupol, where Ukrainians held off Russian forces during a monthlong siege last year until they were eventually forced to evacuate.

"The money will be used to cover different needs – from providing medical and prosthetic treatment and psychological support to meeting specific requests,” Shakhtar president Rinat Akhmetov said.

The club will receive a Ukrainian record-breaking transfer fee of $75 million for 22-year-old Mudryk with an additional $35 million expected as a bonus payment, the club said in a statement Sunday.  

Shakhtar CEO Sergei Palkin talks with CNN.
Shakhtar CEO Sergei Palkin talks with CNN. (CNN)

CNN World Sport's Don Riddell caught up with Shakhtar CEO Sergei Palkin, who described the challenges of playing football during a war.

"For player's it's difficult because, I mean, almost all players living without families because families living abroad — some kind of safety areas — and therefore it's difficult from psychological point of view because when you have war in a country it's difficult to to concentrate, it's difficult to play football because, you know, when you're home, you have problems, big problems, you know, dying people, a lot of people and it's difficult to concentrate," Palkin said.

He continued, "We understood, what we are doing on the pitch, it's because... in support of our people, of our refugees, of our Ukrainian army and because of them."

"We are playing for Ukraine," Palkin added.

6:51 p.m. ET, January 17, 2023

It's nighttime in Kyiv: Here's what you need to know about the war

From CNN staff

The death toll from a Russian missile strike on an apartment block in Dnipro on Saturday has risen to 45 as search teams continue to sift through the rubble. At least 19 people are still missing after one of the deadliest attacks of the war, according to officials.

Here are some of the latest developments:

International support: European Commission President Ursula von de Leyen told CNN's Christiane Amanpour on Tuesday that Western allies need to "step up" the level of military support and equipment being sent to Ukraine. And on Tuesday, a series of countries made announcements to do just that.

  • The Netherlands said it plans to join the US and Germany in sending a Patriot missile defense system to Ukraine. US President Joe Biden thanked Netherlands Prime Minister Mark Rutte for "standing strong with Ukraine."
  • The British government is sending heavy weaponry to Ukraine, including tanks. US Secretary of State Antony Blinken on Tuesday praised the United Kingdom for its announcement.
  • The White House teased that an additional aid package could be announced “as soon as the end of this week.” The Pentagon also confirmed that around 100 Ukrainians have begun training on the Patriot missile system in Oklahoma.
  • Australian military personnel are set to be deployed to the United Kingdom to help train the Ukrainian military, according to UK Defense Minister Ben Wallace. He said the UK will train another 20,000 Ukrainian troops this year.
  • Spain's prime minister on Tuesday also pledged to support Ukraine.

Dnipro missile attack: A small memorial at the foot of a statue of a Ukrainian writer appeared in Moscow on Tuesday commemorating the 45 people who died in the Dnipro apartment bombing. It is not clear who started the memorial.

Impending import ban: Europe is scrambling to buy diesel fuel from Russia before a ban on imports comes into force in early February. But the frantic stockpiling is unlikely to prevent a new price shock for truckers, drivers and businesses.

7:11 p.m. ET, January 17, 2023

Aid to Ukraine will not stop until the war stops, Dutch prime minister says

From CNN's Mohammed Tawfeeq

Dutch Prime Minister Mark Rutte pledged that aid to Ukraine will not stop until the war stops.

"I must say President Biden is very much focused on this. We totally agreed that we can only stop when the war stops and with a successful outcome for Ukraine. So, the end has to be successful Ukraine, Russia losing it, losing the war," Rutte told CNN Tuesday. Rutte was speaking after meeting with US President Joe Biden at the White House and House Speaker Kevin McCarthy.

Rutte emphasized it was up to Ukraine whether to engage in peace talks. "The only one who can decide it is Volodymyr Zelensky, sitting in Kyiv, the President of Ukraine. It cannot be the Netherlands, the US or any other countries that decide that for Ukraine."

He also praised the US for supplying Ukraine with military gear, calling it "impressive" and "a game changer."

He added that the fate of the West was at stake in the war, which is why the Netherlands was committed to supporting Ukraine for as long as was needed.

"If Putin would win this, it won't stop at Ukraine. It will continue, and then, in the end, the collective safety of the whole West is under threat," Rutte said.

6:48 p.m. ET, January 17, 2023

Biden administration says more US aid to Ukraine could be announced “as soon as the end of this week”

From CNN's Nikki Carvajal

The White House teased that additional Ukrainian aid could be announced “as soon as the end of this week,” while vowing to work to hold President Vladimir Putin responsible for any war crimes committed during Russia’s invasion of the country.  

“I suspect that you will continue to hear coming from the United States additional packages of security assistance, additional weapons and capabilities for Ukraine – perhaps as soon as the end of this week,” National Security Council Coordinator for Strategic Communications John Kirby told CNN’s Wolf Blitzer. 

Kirby didn’t answer when asked if the package would include tanks for the Ukrainians, saying he didn’t “want to get ahead of things we haven’t announced yet,” but he said the US was focused “on trying to make sure that we are giving Ukraine what they need in the fight that they're in."

“We're gonna continue to modulate these packages so that they're most appropriate for what Ukraine needs and if we can't provide that, we're working with other allies and partners to see if they can,” he said.  

He was also asked if the Russian missile strike on an apartment building in Dnipro, Ukraine, that killed dozens, including six children, was a war crime.

Kirby said the US had been “very, very clear and honest about the fact that the Russian Armed Forces continue to commit atrocities and war crimes” and would work with the international community to hold Russia accountable. 

“It is just egregious to look at what Mr. Putin did here over the last 48 hours or so in hitting an apartment complex with no military value whatsoever,” he said. “It wasn't about knocking out power or water. It was about killing innocent civilians while they were at home.” 

5:41 p.m. ET, January 17, 2023

Blinken: US determined to give Ukraine the support it needs to succeed on the battlefield

From CNN's Jennifer Hansler

US Secretary of State Antony Blinken speaks during a joint press conference with British Foreign Secretary James Cleverly at the State Department in Washington, DC on Tuesday.
US Secretary of State Antony Blinken speaks during a joint press conference with British Foreign Secretary James Cleverly at the State Department in Washington, DC on Tuesday. (Kevin Lamarque/Reuters)

US Secretary of State Antony Blinken said Tuesday the support Washington has provided to Kyiv has evolved throughout the course of the war as the United States is determined to give Ukraine "what it needs to succeed on the battlefield."

“As this aggression has evolved, so too has our assistance to Ukraine, making sure that it has what it needs to meet the aggression head on,” Blinken said at a news conference in Washington, DC, alongside British Foreign Secretary James Cleverly.

Blinken teased “more announcements” from the US coming out of the meeting of the Ramstein group, which Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin will attend in Germany this week. Blinken did not get into details about what else the US might be providing to Ukraine.

“If you look at the trajectory from Stingers to Javelins to HIMARs to Bradley Fighting Vehicles to Patriot missile batteries, we have continuously provided what Ukraine needs and we're doing it in a way to make sure that it's responsive to what's actually happening on the battlefield, as well as projecting where it might go, making sure as well that the Ukrainians are trained on the systems that were provided, that they have the ability to maintain the systems,” Blinken said. 

He said the provision of US support started “when we saw the storm clouds gathering in the months before the aggression.”

The top US diplomat reiterated that the fastest way to end the war is "to give Ukraine a strong hand on the battlefield,” which is what the US is doing, he said.

Blinken praised the United Kingdom for its announcement that it will provide tanks to Ukraine, saying, “We applaud the prime minister’s commitment over the weekend to send Challenger 2 tanks and additional artillery systems to Ukraine, elements that will continue to reinforce and add to what the United States has provided, including in our most recent drawdown.”

3:31 p.m. ET, January 17, 2023

European Union needs to stay united on Ukraine, Spain's prime minister says

From CNN's Gayle Harrington

Spain's Prime Minister Pedro Sánchez during a meeting of the Federal Executive of the Socialist Party, in Madrid, Spain on January 9, 2023.
Spain's Prime Minister Pedro Sánchez during a meeting of the Federal Executive of the Socialist Party, in Madrid, Spain on January 9, 2023. (Alejandro Martinez Velez/Europa Press/Getty Images)

Spain's prime minister on Tuesday stressed the need for long-term European unity in its support of Ukraine.  

In an interview with CNN's Julia Chatterley at the World Economic Forum in Davos, Prime Minister Pedro Sánchez said that the price of Russia's war on the Ukrainian people has been high.

"They need to feel the solidarity, the empathy and commitment of the whole European Union. We will be with the Ukrainians for as long as it takes," he said.

When asked if he believed Putin had been weakened, Sánchez said that it was his impression that he had been.

Earlier, the prime minister warned delegates attending the forum that it is crucial the EU "fights the rotten seeds Putin has planted in our own countries." 

The Russian president has allies in Europe who hide their sympathies and ties to Putin who must be prevented from destroying the EU from the inside, Sánchez said. 

In his address, he pledged to fight them with the same conviction the Ukrainians are fighting the Russian forces but with different weapons. 

3:03 p.m. ET, January 17, 2023

Netherlands plans to join US and Germany in sending Patriot missile system to Ukraine, prime minister says

From CNN's Duarte Mendonca, Mick Krever, Nikki Carvajal and Lindsay Isaac in London

The Netherlands plans to join the US and Germany in sending a Patriot missile defense system to Ukraine, Dutch Prime Minister Mark Rutte said during a meeting with US President Joe Biden at the White House on Tuesday.

“We have the intention to join what you are doing with Germany on the Patriots project, so the air defense system. I think that is important that we join that,” Rutte said, adding that he’s already discussed the issue with German Chancellor Olaf Scholz and Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky.

“We can never accept that Putin and Russia get away with it this, so our accountability to take them to court, to make sure that this all gets done,” Rutte said.

A Dutch defense ministry spokesperson declined to comment beyond Rutte’s statement.

Biden and Rutte “reaffirmed the historic ties and shared values that link” the US and the Netherlands when they met Tuesday, the White House said, in a readout of the meeting. 

The two leaders, “reviewed our steadfast political, security, economic, and humanitarian support for Ukraine in the face of Russia’s brutal war of aggression, including our efforts to hold Russia accountable for its abuses and for the war crimes committed by Russian forces,” according to the readout. They also discussed “growing cooperation on other foreign policy priorities, including our shared vision for a free and open Indo-Pacific.”

More on the Patriot missile system: The Patriot’s radar system combines “surveillance, tracking, and engagement functions in one unit,” a description from the Center for Strategic International Studies (CSIS) says, which makes it stand out among other air defense systems. The system’s engagements with incoming aerial threats are “nearly autonomous” aside from needing a “final launch decision” from the humans operating it. Patriot – an acronym for Phased Array Tracking Radar for intercept on Target – system is considered one of the most capable long-range air defense systems on the market. 

CNN's Haley Britzky contributed reporting to this post.

1:28 p.m. ET, January 17, 2023

Around 100 Ukrainian troops have begun Patriot missile training at US base, Defense Department confirms 

From CNN's Michael Conte and Oren Liebermann

The US Defense Department confirmed that "upwards of 90 to 100 Ukrainians" have all arrived at Fort Sill, Oklahoma, and have begun their training on the Patriot missile system.

On Monday, the US Army base announced that Ukrainian troops had arrived at the location to begin training. CNN was first to report that the training was set to begin as soon as this week.

Fort Sill is home to the Fires Center of Excellence where the US conducts Patriot training for its own military and other countries. 

“The same instructors who teach U.S., allied and partner nations will conduct the Ukrainian training, and these classes will not detract from the ongoing training missions at Fort Sill,” the base said in a statement.

The training will take “several months” on the advanced, but complex long-range aerial defense system, according to Pentagon officials. It’s not clear how much the military can accelerate the training program.