January 24, 2023 - Russia-Ukraine news

By Tara Subramaniam, Jack Guy, Adrienne Vogt, Leinz Vales and Mike Hayes, CNN

Updated 12:14 a.m. ET, January 25, 2023
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4:04 p.m. ET, January 24, 2023

State Department: US "regularly engaged in" conversations about military equipment for Ukraine

From CNN's Jennifer Hansler and Kylie Atwood 

State Department spokesperson Ned Price answers questions from press during the daily press briefing at the State Department in Washington DC, on January 9.
State Department spokesperson Ned Price answers questions from press during the daily press briefing at the State Department in Washington DC, on January 9. (Celal Gunes/Anadolu Agency/Getty Images)

State Department spokesperson Ned Price said the United States “is regularly engaged in” conversations with allies and partners about military equipment for Ukraine but would not confirm reports that the US is preparing to send Abrams tanks or that Germany will send Leopards. 

“We’re not going to get ahead of any potential announcements from other allies, other partners, we’re not going to preview anything else we may have to say,” Price said at a press briefing Tuesday. 

“We have not taken capabilities off the table,” he added.

The Biden administration is finalizing plans to send Abrams tanks to Ukraine, three US officials familiar with the deliberations said Tuesday. An announcement could come as soon as this week, the officials said.

The timing around the actual delivery of the tanks is still unclear, and it normally takes several months to train troops to use the tanks effectively, officials said. 

Price noted that “just because we’re in the same public place doesn’t necessarily mean we haven’t made progress on any given issue.”

3:10 p.m. ET, January 24, 2023

Germany hasn't formally notified Poland about a decision on Leopard 2 tanks, Polish official says

From CNN's Jennifer Hansler 

Berlin has not yet formally notified Warsaw about a decision to allow Leopard 2 tanks to be sent to Ukraine, a Polish official told CNN on Tuesday.

Earlier Tuesday, the German government press office confirmed receipt of a Polish request to export the German-made main battle tanks to Ukraine. 

Newspaper Der Spiegel reported Tuesday that German Chancellor Olaf Scholz has decided to deliver battle tanks to Ukraine after "months of debate." It will be part of a larger effort for allies to send tanks to Ukraine, the report said.

CNN reached out to the German government for comment on Tuesday but has not received a response. 

2:47 p.m. ET, January 24, 2023

US National Guard will train Ukrainians on "whatever we're asked," chief says

From CNN's Haley Britzky

Gen. Daniel Hokanson, the chief of the US National Guard, told reporters Tuesday that it is “pretty motivating” to see Ukrainian troops training with Guard members in Germany.

“I had the opportunity to actually visit them in 2022 in June as we were training the Ukrainians there, and I will tell you it’s a great effort, Ukrainian soldiers are very motivated, obviously their country has been invaded, an unprovoked invasion, and they’re there trying to defend their sovereignty … it’s pretty motivating to see the dedication of our Guardsmen and the Ukrainian soldiers working together to prepare them to go back into their country,” Hokanson said.

Ukrainian soldiers began training in Germany with US troops last week on combined arms training. A group of 90-100 troops also began training on the Patriot missile system at Fort Sill, Oklahoma.

4:06 p.m. ET, January 24, 2023

Germany has decided to deliver Leopard 2 tanks to Ukraine, German newspaper reports

From CNN's Lauren Kent and Mick Krever in London, Fred Pleitgen in Kyiv and Inke Kappeler in Berlin

Austrian soldiers drive a Leopard tank during a military exercise in Grafenwoehr, Germany, in 2017.
Austrian soldiers drive a Leopard tank during a military exercise in Grafenwoehr, Germany, in 2017. (Christof Stache/AFP via Getty Images)

Germany is set to send Leopard 2 tanks to Ukraine, newspaper Der Spiegel reported on Tuesday evening, citing unnamed sources. German Chancellor Olaf Scholz has decided to deliver battle tanks to Ukraine after "months of debate," according to the exclusive Der Spiegel report.

It will be part of a larger effort for allies to send tanks to Ukraine, the report added.

Meanwhile, the Biden administration is finalizing plans to send US-made Abrams tanks to Ukraine and could make an announcement as soon as this week, according to three US officials familiar with the deliberations.

An announcement about the tanks could be part of an attempt to break a diplomatic logjam with Germany, which indicated to the US last week that it would not send its Leopard tanks to Ukraine unless the US also agreed to send its M1 Abrams tanks.

CNN reached out to the German government for comment on Tuesday evening but has not received a response. 

Meanwhile, German parliament is still due to debate the contentious issue of possibly sending Leopard tanks to Ukraine on Wednesday morning.

The German army has 320 Leopard 2 tanks in its possession but does not reveal how many would be battle-ready, a spokeswoman for the Ministry of Defense previously told CNN.

1:34 p.m. ET, January 24, 2023

Bipartisan group of senators call for US to send tanks to Ukraine to encourage allies to do the same

From CNN's Nicky Robertson

A bipartisan group of United States senators who just returned from a visit to Ukraine urged President Joe Biden's administration to send tanks to Kyiv in hopes of encouraging Germany and other allies to also send tanks.  

“The best tank for the fight is the German Leopard tank ... [and] American tanks can be helpful in this regard. If we send some Abrams tanks, it will open the floodgates to more tanks coming from allies,” Republican Sen. Lindsey Graham said at a news conference Tuesday. 

Graham said that despite some issues associated with the American Abrams tanks, sending them would still be an important signal. US officials said publicly last week that hesitations stemmed from the tanks being costly and requiring a significant amount of training to operate. 

“To the Biden administration, please send the tanks. To the Germans, please send the tanks,” Graham said. 

Democratic Sen. Richard Blumenthal added that “the Pentagon ought to come full board with those Abrams tanks, if that's what is necessary for the Germans to give permission to our allies, to provide the Leopard 2 tanks, and for the Germans to provide those tanks themselves.”

The senators stressed that they believe the war is at an important point and that there is an urgent need for additional weapon support now. 

“I want to thank President Biden for saying that Ukraine will get everything it needs to win. ... There is an urgency to now, time is not on our side,” Blumenthal said. 

CNN reported earlier that the Biden administration is finalizing plans to send the US-made Abrams tanks to Ukraine and could make an announcement as soon as this week, according to three US officials familiar with the deliberations.

1:26 p.m. ET, January 24, 2023

Wagner head appeals for legal protections for volunteers who fight as mercenaries in Ukraine

From CNN's Katharina Krebs in London

The head of the Wagner private military company on Tuesday appealed to the Russian State Duma to issue protections for the volunteers and convicts who fight as Wagner mercenaries in Ukraine.

“There are media outlets that purposefully look out for negative information about the volunteers, including former prisoners, publish such materials that portray the defenders of Russia — people who give up their lives for us — in a bad light, vilifying them as villains and criminals," Yevgeny Prigozhin said in a letter to Vyacheslav Volodin, speaker of the Russian State Duma, according to a version published by his holding company, Concord.

He said that it was necessary to ban publications “of a negative nature and any criticism of the participants of the special military operation, as well as information about their past offenses.”

“I ask you to urgently take measures about the introduction of article 280.5 ‘On discrediting participants in hostilities, volunteers, including former convicts’ to the Criminal Code," he added.

Prigozhin said that Wagner fighters “courageously and honourably fulfill their duty to the Motherland, effectively completing military tasks, ensure the safety of the state and suffer combat losses.”

Prigohzin also brought up the issue of number of media outlets and bloggers "who openly discredit volunteers."

"Such practices must be severely suppressed in order to consolidate our society in confronting Russia's external threats," he said.

1:25 p.m. ET, January 24, 2023

Mariupol’s Azovstal plant is "too badly destroyed" to function, Russian official tells state media

From CNN's Katharina Krebs

The remains of a statue and other rubble lie in front of the Azovstal steel mill in Mariupol, Ukraine, in December.
The remains of a statue and other rubble lie in front of the Azovstal steel mill in Mariupol, Ukraine, in December. (AP)

Mariupol’s Azovstal plant is too badly damaged to be restored to a functioning state, a Russian official tasked with government construction projects said Tuesday, according to the Russian state news agency TASS.

"Definitely no one will restore Azovstal, because to do it on the scale of that Soviet enterprise, as it was before, this is impossible and unprofitable. It was too badly destroyed during the hostilities," said Yulia Maksimova, head of state-owned company Roskapstroy.

According to Maksimova, the region's economy will be "partially revised" and "new directions will be developed."

Remember: The Azovstal plant was the site last spring of a longstanding siege of Ukrainian forces by the Russian military, hoping to complete their capture of the southeastern Ukrainian city of Mariupol.

Separately, the new Russian-appointed mayor of Mariupol, Oleg Morgun, on Tuesday announced plans to restore the Azov Shipyard, which is the largest enterprise in the Sea of Azov, specializing in ship repair and shipbuilding.

“There is an intention to restore the Mariupol shipyard, for it to work," Morgun said on state TV Russia 24.

According to Morgun, there are plans to also restore the work of the Ilyich metallurgical plant as there is "interest from investors" from other regions of Russia who also want to open new production facilities in the city.

11:49 a.m. ET, January 24, 2023

German parliament will debate sending Leopard tanks to Ukraine tomorrow

From CNN's Stephanie Halasz

The German parliament will debate the contentious issue of possibly sending Leopard tanks to Ukraine on Wednesday. 

The opposition parties Christian Democratic Union (CDU) and Christian Social Union (CSU) have requested the debate, arguing they want to “end the Leopard-blockade of the federal government." The opposition parties say, according to the parliamentary website, that the German government “must fear losing the trust of its allies.”

The debate will start at 9.05 a.m. ET Wednesday.

Some context: Poland has formally asked Germany for permission to transfer Leopard 2 battle tanks to Ukraine. Germany has so far resisted calls from Poland, the US and a handful of other NATO countries to transfer the tanks into Ukraine, or authorize other countries to send some of their Leopards to Kyiv.

However, Germany's Defense Minister Boris Pistorius said earlier that the country will make a decision on the tanks "very soon."

11:39 a.m. ET, January 24, 2023

EU welcomes Ukraine taking corruption seriously, spokesperson says

From CNN's Mick Krever in London

The European Commission on Tuesday welcomed developments in Ukraine suggesting the country is taking corruption seriously, a spokesperson said Tuesday.

European Commission spokesperson Ana Pisonero said that she could not comment on ongoing criminal matters, but said "we do welcome of course the fact that the Ukrainian authorities are taking these issues seriously.”

Ukraine was granted EU candidate status in June 2022.

“Anti-corruption measures are of course an important dimension of the EU accession process,” Pisonero said during a news conference. “And they are also part of policy conditions for the Union’s continued macro-financial assistance.”

Some more context: A number of senior Ukrainian officials have resigned or been fired by President Volodymyr Zelensky in the biggest shakeup of the government since the war began.

The shakeup comes amid a growing corruption scandal linked to the procurement of wartime supplies.

The recent changes to “personnel” within Ukraine's government prove that Zelensky “sees and hears society," according to a presidential adviser.