January 18, 2023 Russia-Ukraine news

By Tara Subramaniam, Kathryn Snowdon, Jack Guy, Aditi Sangal, Adrienne Vogt and Leinz Vales, CNN

Updated 12:25 a.m. ET, January 19, 2023
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7:51 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.” 

7:50 p.m. ET, January 17, 2023

Netherlands plans to send Patriot missile system to Ukraine, prime minister says

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

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 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. The 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.

7:48 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.

9:09 p.m. ET, January 17, 2023

"I won't leave": Civilians struggle on with daily life despite battle for Bakhmut

From CNN's Ben Wedeman, Kosta Gak and Kareem Khadder in Bakhmut, Ukraine

Ukrainian soldiers digging trenches in Bakhmut.
Ukrainian soldiers digging trenches in Bakhmut. (Kareem Khadder/CNN)

An excavator gouges huge chunks of rich brown earth by the roadside, depositing the dirt at the edge of the lengthening trench.

Soldiers shovel more dirt out of the trench, well inside the city of Bakhmut in Ukraine’s eastern Donetsk region.

The officer in charge, who gives his name only as Valentin, insists the trench is just a precautionary measure, and that the fighting in Soledar, just 15 kilometers (9 miles) to the north, remains back and forth.

“If we have weapons and tanks and guns, they won’t come here,” he says.

The situation in Soledar remains unclear. Days ago, the leader of the Russian private military company Wagner, Yevgeny Prigozhin, announced that his group had control of the entire Soledar area. Ukrainian officials dispute the claim. This CNN team, which has been to the Soledar area several times in recent days saw that, regardless of the various claims, Ukrainian forces are on the defensive.

(Kareem Khadder/CNN)
(Kareem Khadder/CNN)

Fighting around Bakhmut has raged for months — but has eased slightly as Russian forces have focused their efforts on Soledar. If the battle there is in its final stages, it’s widely assumed the Russians will renew their push to take Bakhmut.

Ukrainian officials say perhaps only 10% of the pre-war population remains in Bakhmut. On the western side of the city, which slopes down to a valley out of view of Russian positions, some civilians try to carry on as best they can.

Read more here.

7:47 p.m. ET, January 17, 2023

Top Ukrainian and US generals meet in Poland

From CNN's Yulia Kesiaeva in Kyiv and Oren Liebermann

Ukraine’s top general said he had his first ever in-person meeting with his US counterpart Gen. Mark Milley in Poland on Tuesday.

“I extended my gratitude to General Mark Milley for the unwavering support and assistance provided by the United States of America and allies to Ukraine." Gen. Valerii Zaluzhnyi, commander-in-chief of the Armed Forces of Ukraine, said on Facebook. "I outlined the urgent needs of the Armed Forces of Ukraine meeting which will accelerate our victory.”

Milley and Zaluzhnyi discussed “the unprovoked and ongoing Russian invasion of Ukraine,” according to a readout of the meeting provided by the US general's office.

Later this week, Milley will attend the next meeting of the Ukraine Contact Group in Ramstein, Germany, when the US and approximately 50 other countries come together to pledge new support to Ukraine. On Monday, Milley saw the newly expanded combined arms training of Ukrainian forces in Germany.

“The Chairman reaffirmed unwavering support for Ukraine’s sovereignty and territorial integrity,” according to the readout.

The meeting between the generals came one day after Ukrainian troops arrived at Fort Sill in Oklahoma to begin training on the Patriot missile system, according to the US Army base.

7:34 p.m. ET, January 17, 2023

Europe's ban on Russian diesel could send pump prices even higher

From CNN's Anna Cooban

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.

In the first two weeks of January, European countries snapped up almost 8 million barrels of Russian diesel, according to energy data provider Vortexa, roughly on par with imports this time last year before Russia invaded Ukraine. Imports in the fourth quarter of 2022 were up nearly 19% on the same period the previous year.

Since Russia’s invasion in February last year, the European Union has made a huge effort to wean itself off Moscow’s oil and natural gas supplies. That has included a ban on all Russian seaborne crude oil imports, which came into force in December.

EU countries drastically reduced their imports of crude from Russia ahead of the ban, but that isn’t happening with diesel because it’s much harder to find alternative sources of the fuel.

Read more here.