January 22, 2023 Russia-Ukraine news

By Sophie Tanno, Issy Ronald, Matt Meyer and Maureen Chowdhury, CNN

Updated 1:02 a.m. ET, January 23, 2023
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5:37 a.m. ET, January 22, 2023

With a Russian offensive looming, Ukrainian officials battle to train military up with new Western weapons

From CNN's Tim Lister and Fred Pleitgen and Matthias Somm

Ukrainian servicemen attend joint drills near Chernobyl on Friday.
Ukrainian servicemen attend joint drills near Chernobyl on Friday. (Gleb Garanich/Reuters)

A few kilometers from the Belarus border, Ukrainian forces are training for what they expect to be a brutal spring.

Ageing T-72 tanks – some twice the age of their crews – fire off rounds into the mist, while ground troops practise storming abandoned buildings. Some of the training takes place in the eerily quiet town of Pripyat, deserted since the Chernobyl nuclear disaster in 1986.

As the troops are put through their paces, Lieutenant General Serhiy Naiev takes delivery of a dozen pick-up trucks armed with heavy machine guns and anti-aircraft guns, a crowd-funded initiative to help Ukraine repel Iranian-made Shahed drones, which have caused so much damage to Ukraine’s power infrastructure.

But Naiev, a stocky and affable commander, believes the next phase of this war will be about tanks. And that means not his ancient T-72s but more modern machines such as German Leopard 2s and British Challengers.

Ukrainian officials say they need several hundred main battle tanks – not only to defend their present positions but also to take the fight to the enemy in the coming months.

Read the full story here.

4:20 a.m. ET, January 22, 2023

Heavy Russian shelling in eastern regions, according to Ukrainian military

From CNN's Tim Lister in Kyiv

Ukrainian servicemen stand near a residential building heavily damaged during a Russian military strike in Bakhmut on Tuesday.
Ukrainian servicemen stand near a residential building heavily damaged during a Russian military strike in Bakhmut on Tuesday. (Mykola Synelnykov/Reuters/FILE)

The Ukrainian military says Russian forces continue their assaults on Bakhmut and Avdiivka in Donetsk, two towns that have been shelled persistently since last summer but remain in Ukrainian hands.

The General Staff said Sunday that the Russians "conducted unsuccessful offensives in the Avdiivka and Lyman direction. They continue to attempt an offensive in the Bakhmut direction, increasing the intensity of their use of aircraft. In other directions -- they are on the defensive."

It said that Ukrainian units had repelled attacks in both Luhansk and Donetsk regions, identifying nearly a dozen settlements. One was the village of Novoselivske inside Luhansk, indicating that the Ukrainians have consolidated their control of that district.

There had also been shelling of settlements in the Kharkiv region that were liberated in September.

The General Staff said Ukrainian missile and artillery units had struck two areas of Russian troop concentrations, without specifying where.

6:08 a.m. ET, January 22, 2023

Ukrainian military says Russia is trying to advance in southern Zaporizhzhia region

From CNN's Julia Kesaieva in Kyiv

Ukrainian servicemen fire a howitzer on the frontline of the Zaporizhzhia region on January 5.
Ukrainian servicemen fire a howitzer on the frontline of the Zaporizhzhia region on January 5. (Stringer/Reuters/FILE)

Russian forces are attempting an offensive in the southern Zaporizhzhia region, while also trying to push forward in parts of Donetsk in the east, the Ukrainian military reported.

Ukrainian forces are "holding the line" in the region and "giving a worthy rebuff to the Russian occupation forces," the Zaporizhzhia region military administration confirmed in a Telegram post.

The administration says that Russian forces have not made advances in the region after claims by the Russian Ministry of Defense Saturday that several villages south of the regional capital had been taken.

The Russian military "conducted unsuccessful offensives in the Avdiivka sector (in Donetsk). It continues to attempt an offensive in the Bakhmut and Zaporizhzhia directions, increasing the intensity of aviation use," the General Staff of the Armed Forces of Ukraine said Saturday in a statement.

Ukrainian military reported Saturday that Russian forces are attempting an offensive in the southern Zaporizhzhia region, while also trying to push forward in parts of Donetsk in the east.

The General Staff said there had also been cross-border shelling by the Russians in the northeastern Sumy and Kharkiv regions.

It also said the Russian-appointed administration in occupied Kherson "is tightening control over the registration of civilians" in the southern region.

"In particular, it is trying to create a database of civilians' places of residence, threatening to cut off electricity under the guise of implementing an 'electricity saving program,'" the statement reads.

CNN has not independently verified the claims about such programs in Kherson.

What Moscow is saying: Earlier Saturday, the Russian Defense Ministry claimed several villages near the city of Orikhiv in Zaporizhzhia had been won. Ukraine has not responded to the claim, but said that "in the Zaporizhzhia sector, artillery fire hit areas near more than 25 settlements." 

There have been reports of heavy fighting around Bakhmut, which Russian officials claim is slowly being encircled, and further east around Kreminna in Luhansk, where Russian forces are seeking to prevent any Ukrainian advance through a nearby forested area. Ukrainian success in this area could compromise Russia's supply lines towards Bakhmut.

This map shows the latest state of control in key regions for the conflict: