January 23, 2023 - Russia-Ukraine news

By Kathleen Magramo, Sana Noor Haq, Jack Guy, Aditi Sangal, Mike Hayes and Leinz Vales, CNN

Updated 12:16 a.m. ET, January 24, 2023
11 Posts
Sort byDropdown arrow
5:13 a.m. ET, January 23, 2023

Polish PM lashes out at Germany for "wasting time" on dispatching tanks to Ukraine 

From CNN’s Antonia Mortensen

Poland's prime minister has said his government will build coalition of countries ready to donate modern tanks and other equipment to Ukraine, as he criticized Germany for “wasting time” on the issue of sending advanced weaponry to Kyiv.

When things seem to be going in a slightly better direction on the subject of heavy weapons for Ukraine, Germany steps in and raises doubts. The enemy is in the east, and we are wasting time on discussions that do not lead to anything good," Prime Minister Mateusz Morawiecki told the PAP Polish Press news agency.

“We will build a smaller coalition of states ready to donate some of their modern equipment, modern tanks to Ukraine. We will not passively watch Ukraine bleed to death,” he said Sunday. 

Morawiecki added that Berlin’s “attitude” towards transferring German-made Leopard 2 tanks to Ukraine was “unacceptable.”  

“Germany is a powerful country in terms of its economy and military strength… I will say it bluntly. Ukraine and Europe will win this war – with or without Germany. However, it is up to Germany whether they want to join the mission of stopping Russia's barbarism, or whether they will watch it passively, dooming themselves to being recorded on the wrong side of history."

Some context: Western leaders have put increased pressure on Germany to dispatch Leopard 2 tanks to Kyiv, after President Volodymyr Zelensky called on allies to help bolster Ukrainian defense against Russia's invasion.

Germany’s Defense Minister Boris Pistorius said Sunday “there will be a decision soon” on whether Berlin would transfer the tanks. 

5:06 a.m. ET, January 23, 2023

Germany to decide "soon" on delivery of Leopard 2 tanks to Ukraine

From CNN’s Inke Kappeler and Allegra Goodwin

Two Leopard 2 A6 heavy battle tanks and a Puma infantry fighting vehicle of the Bundeswehr's 9th Panzer Training Brigade participate in a demonstration at the Bundeswehr Army training grounds on February 7, in Munster, Germany.
Two Leopard 2 A6 heavy battle tanks and a Puma infantry fighting vehicle of the Bundeswehr's 9th Panzer Training Brigade participate in a demonstration at the Bundeswehr Army training grounds on February 7, in Munster, Germany. (Sean Gallup/Getty Images)

Berlin says it will soon make a swift decision on the delivery of Leopard 2 tanks to Ukraine, as Western leaders put increased pressure on Germany to send advanced weaponry to Kyiv following repeated requests from President Volodymyr Zelensky.

Germany’s Defense Minister Boris Pistorius has said he anticipates a timely decision on the delivery of the tanks, adding he deems them necessary for a Ukrainian offensive in the eastern Luhansk and Donbas regions. 

“Everyone understands the need he [Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky] is in and everyone understands the necessities and that is why there will be a decision soon, whatever it will be,” Germany’s Defense Minister Boris Pistorius said.

“That tanks are needed, that an offensive movement is needed with regard to Donbas, with regard to Luhansk, that is absolutely clear, but how that will be equipped then has to be seen, but there are also other states that can make their contributions,” he told public broadcaster ARD Sunday. 

Though he described Germany as “a Leopard nation,” adding it has a “special responsibility that we have to live up to,” Pistorius stressed the importance of a decision on Leopard tanks “being closely coordinated,” with allies. 

“We are talking about heavy armored weapons that can and must be used for offensive purposes, and we have to weigh up very carefully when to bring them into the equation, and I think it is right to do so cautiously and carefully in the German and European interest and not hastily or recklessly,” Pistorius added. 

Weapons intended for warfare that are manufactured in the country cannot be re-exported without the federal government’s approval, according to German law.

Under the “War Weapons Control Act“ the German government must consent to any delivery of German-made weapons to a war zone.

Some context: Germany has so far failed to reach an agreement with its key Western allies on sending Leopard 2 tanks to Ukraine, despite growing pressure from NATO and Kyiv to step up its military aid ahead of a potential Russian spring offensive.

Some Kyiv officials have expressed frustration at Berlin's indecision over whether to dispatch its tanks to Ukraine.

Ukraine's Deputy Foreign Minister Andriy Melnyk told CNN's Isa Soares that Germany's lack of action is a "huge disappointment for all Ukrainians."

CNN's Mohammed Tawfeeq contributed reporting.

4:45 a.m. ET, January 23, 2023

HIMARS strike hits mechanical facility in occupied Luhansk

From CNN's Kostan Nechyporenko, Josh Pennington and Teele Rebane

Ukrainian forces launched a HIMARS strike on a mechanical plant dispensary in occupied Luhansk Saturday, amid efforts from Kyiv to retake control of the eastern region.

The dispensary in Kadiivka was used as a “location” for Chechen fighters led by pro-Kremlin Chechen leader Ramzan Kadyrov, the Ukrainian Armed Forces Center for Strategic Communication claimed.

Six rockets were launched destroying the dispensary of the mechanical engineering plant according to the the Luhansk People's Republic (LPR) mission to the Joint Centre of Control and Coordination on ceasefire and stabilization of the demarcation line (JCCC).

It is unclear whether the dispensary was used by pro-Russian forces, and for what purposes.

The dispensary may have been used as a hospital for soldiers, information from a local source shared by the JCCC alleged.

In June, Kadyrov shared a video on his Telegram channel of a delivery of medical supplies to a hospital in Kadiivka. 

The extent of casualties is still being clarified according to the JCCC, but Andrey Marochko, spokesperson of the LNR militia confirmed that there were no casualties among “the civilian population."

In December, Russian state media TASS reported that a hotel in Kadiivka, said to be the headquarters of the Wagner Group, was destroyed in a HIMARS strike. 

Some background: The versatility of the US-made HIMARS system is clear from its name: the High Mobility Artillery Rocket System. Its mobility makes it harder to target and it can be crewed by just eight soldiers. The rockets supplied to Ukraine have a range of 70 to 80 kilometers (about 50 miles). And their GPS guidance systems make them extremely accurate.

3:55 a.m. ET, January 23, 2023

EU foreign policy chief hopes bloc reaches consensus on next tranche of aid to Ukraine

From CNN’s Allegra Goodwin

High Representative of the European Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy Josep Borrell speaks to members of the media as he attends a EU Foreign Ministers' meeting in Brussels, Belgium, on January 23.
High Representative of the European Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy Josep Borrell speaks to members of the media as he attends a EU Foreign Ministers' meeting in Brussels, Belgium, on January 23. (Johanna Geron/Reuters)

The European Union's top diplomat Josep Borrell said Monday he hoped bloc members agree to another tranche of aid to support Ukraine, during a foreign ministers' meeting in Brussels. 

"I hope we will reach a political consensus," Borrell told reporters ahead of the meeting.

He added no formal decision is expected to be taken Monday about the funds, which are part of the European Peace Facility (EPF).

The EPF has been operational since July 2021 and finances activities with military implications, supporting the armies of partner countries and EU member states with infrastructure, training and equipment. 

The funds were mobilized for the first time in EU history in reaction to Russia's invasion of Ukraine for the delivery of military equipment, including lethal weaponry.

1:23 a.m. ET, January 23, 2023

Germany would not stop Poland from sending Leopard combat tanks to Ukraine if asked, official says

From CNN's Inke Kappeler

Annalena Baerbock speaks in Berlin on January 19.
Annalena Baerbock speaks in Berlin on January 19. (Carsten Koall/picture alliance/Getty Images)

Germany would not stop Poland from sending Leopard 2 combat tanks to Ukraine if asked, German Foreign Minister Annalena Baerbock told French news outlet LCI on Sunday. 

“The question has not been asked. If we were asked the question, we would not stand in the way,“ Baerbock said in an interview on the sides of a French-German cabinet meeting.

When asked for clarification by the interviewer if she meant Germany would not stop Poland from sending battle tanks to Ukraine, Baerbock said: “You have understood me correctly.“

“We have rules, the so-called end-use controls,“ Baerbock said of Germany's hesitancy to send combat tanks into the war zone. 

According to Germany’s basic law, “weapons intended for warfare may be manufactured, transported, and marketed only with the authorization of the federal government.“ 

Under the “War Weapons Control Act“ the German government must consent to any delivery of German-made weapons to a war zone.

German Chancellor Olaf Scholz must consent and the final decision rests with him, according to German law. 

Scholz has been heavily criticized by his liberal coalition partner and many others for his stance on sending Leopard 2 tanks to Ukraine. 

12:19 a.m. ET, January 23, 2023

Delivery of offensive weapons to Ukraine will "lead to a global catastrophe," Russian official says

From CNN's Mariya Knight

The provision of Western weapons to Ukraine “will lead to a global catastrophe,” a senior Russian politician warned Sunday.

“Delivery of offensive weapons to the Kyiv regime will lead to a global catastrophe,” Vyacheslav Volodin, chairman of the State Duma, Russia's lower house of parliament, wrote on his Telegram channel. 

Volodin said the delivery of weapons will lead to Russian retaliation "using more powerful weapons.” 

His comments come after NATO partners met at Ramstein air base in Germany Friday to discuss more military aid for Ukraine. 

Volodin called on European parliaments to realize “their responsibility to humanity.”

The decisions Brussels and Washington make are leading the world to a "terrible war,” he said.

“To a completely different military action than today, when strikes are carried out exclusively on the military and critical infrastructure used by the Kyiv regime,” he claimed. “Given the technological superiority of Russian weapons, foreign politicians making such decisions need to understand that this could end in a global tragedy that will destroy their countries.”

Mykhailo Podolyak, an adviser to Ukraine’s Presidential Administration, said Volodin's comments were “politically inadequate.” 

“Russian Federation using Volodin threatens again that the supply of military equipment to Ukraine is a threat to the mythical cities of the Russian Federation, and therefore we should expect an escalation,” he tweeted Sunday. “This is after the Russian Federation has been bombing Ukraine for 11 months, massively killing civilians, but Ukraine and the world have to silently endure it and not resist...” 

On Sunday, Dmitry Medvedev, the deputy head of Russia's Security Council and key ally of President Vladimir Putin, said "things will be very difficult for Russia" following the Ramstein meeting. 

"Meeting in Ramstein and the allocation of heavy weapons to Kyiv leaves no doubt that our enemies will indefinitely try to wear us down, or rather, destroy us. And they have enough weapons. [..]Therefore, there is no need for illusions. What are the conclusions from this? First, things will be very difficult for Russia," he said. 
3:26 a.m. ET, January 23, 2023

House Foreign Affairs chairman says some members don’t understand what's at stake in Ukraine

From CNN's Daniella Diaz and Paul LeBlanc

Rep. Michael McCaul, R-Texas, attends a news conference in the Capitol, Washington D.C, on February 2.
Rep. Michael McCaul, R-Texas, attends a news conference in the Capitol, Washington D.C, on February 2. (Bill Clark/CQ-Roll Call, Inc/Getty Images)

The Republican chairman of the House Foreign Affairs Committee sought Sunday to tamp down speculation that the new GOP majority will be less likely to fund aid to Ukraine in its war against Russia, though he did suggest some members of his party may need to be convinced about the need to continue US support.

“I think there’s enough support on both sides of the aisle. Majority in the Democratic Party, majority in the Republican,” Texas Rep. Michael McCaul told CNN’s Dana Bash on “State of the Union,” referring to aid to Ukraine. But he added, “We have to educate our members. I don’t think they quite understand what’s at stake.”

“If Ukraine falls, Chairman Xi in China’s going to invade Taiwan. It’s Russia, China. Iran is putting drones in Crimea, and North Korea that is putting artillery into Russia. They have to understand the case. And they talk about the border, not mutually exclusive at all. We can do both. We’re a great country. We can walk and chew gum at the same time,” McCaul said.

Read more here.

7:43 p.m. ET, January 22, 2023

US experts visit eastern Ukrainian city of Izium

From CNN's Maria Kostenko

An unofficial delegation from the United States has visited the eastern Ukrainian city of Izium, which was liberated from Russian occupation last September.

The delegation included retired US Army Lt. Gen. Keith Kellogg and was accompanied by Oleh Syniehubov, head of the Kharkiv regional military administration. 

"Our American partners personally observed the scale of destruction caused by Russian shelling and occupation and examined the evidence of Russian war crimes in the Kharkiv region," Syniebuhov said on Telegram.
"Despite the enormous destruction and damaged critical infrastructure, Izium is gradually restoring its normal life. People are returning to the city and businesses are resuming operations."

Johnson returns: The visit to Izium came as former British Prime Minister Boris Johnson returned to Kyiv on Sunday — Ukrainian Unity Day. Johnson also traveled to Bucha and Borodianka with the head of the Kyiv regional military administration, Oleksii Kuleba.

In September, CNN became the first international television crew to enter Izium since the Ukrainians retook it.

The recapturing of the city by Ukraine marked a huge strategic loss for the Russian military, which used it as a key base and resupply route for its forces in eastern Ukraine. It highlighted the speed and scale of Ukraine’s lightning-fast counteroffensive in the northeast last year.

3:23 a.m. ET, January 23, 2023

Ukraine says its advance in east "very difficult" after Russians bring up reserves

From CNN's Tim Lister and Kostan Nechyporenko

A senior Ukrainian official in the east of the country says the armed forces are in control of current positions but "moving forward is very difficult" because the Russians have brought up substantial reserves.

"Very fierce fighting continues in our Luhansk region. It is difficult. But the situation is absolutely stable and controlled by the Armed Forces of Ukraine," Serhiy Hayday, head of the Luhansk regional military administration, told Ukrainian television Sunday.

Referring to the north-south frontline running between Svatove and Kreminna, Hayday said: "Moving forward there is very difficult because the occupiers have brought up huge reserves. And as I have said many times before — everything is very thoroughly mined there."

But he added: "No matter how difficult it is, the Luhansk region is being de-occupied step by step, meter by meter."

Hayday said Russian forces had several layers of defensive lines in the region. "The first line is mostly [held by] recently mobilized, either from Russia or the so-called LDPR [Luhansk People's Republic]."

He said that Chechen forces were in the area as well as Russian regular forces.

"There are huge numbers of them [Russian troops in the Svatove-Kreminna area]. And a very large number of mobilized. And they are constantly being thrown into the offensive — almost all the time ... And the huge problem is that there are just an incredible number of them. That is why every meter of the Luhansk region is extremely difficult to gain."

Hayday claimed that militia from Luhansk and Donetsk fighting with the Russians had low morale. "They see a huge number of overcrowded hospitals. They see a huge number of corpses, which they have to pass when they are sent on the offensive. They see that those they talked to yesterday are just lying there, and no one is taking their corpses," he said.

Ukrainian forces have been trying to advance toward Kreminna, which would allow them to threaten the Russian-held cities of Lysychansk and Severodonetsk, for weeks. But they are still thought to be several kilometers outside the town.