January 25, 2023 - Russia-Ukraine news

By Tara Subramaniam, Aditi Sangal, Adrienne Vogt, Leinz Vales, Mike Hayes, Maureen Chowdhury and Elise Hammond, CNN

Updated 1857 GMT (0257 HKT) January 26, 2023
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2:29 a.m. ET, January 25, 2023

Kremlin spokesman says US and German tanks will bring "more suffering" to Ukraine

From CNN’s Fred Pleitgen in Kyiv

Dmitry Peskov attends a Summit in Bishkek, Kyrgyzstan on November 9, 2022.
Dmitry Peskov attends a Summit in Bishkek, Kyrgyzstan on November 9, 2022. (Stringer/Getty Images)

US and European donations of tanks to Ukraine will bring “more suffering” to the country and “more tension to the continent,” a spokesman for Russian President Vladimir Putin said Wednesday.

“Unfortunately, more weapons from NATO bring more suffering for people in Ukraine. It also brings more tension to the continent. But it cannot prevent Russia from reaching our goals," Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov told CNN.

His comments come as Germany's parliament on Wednesday prepares to debate the contentious issue of possibly sending German-made Leopard tanks to Ukraine.

Meanwhile, US officials familiar with the negotiations said the Biden administration is finalizing plans to send approximately 30 US-made Abrams tanks to Ukraine.

Strained relations: On Tuesday, Peskov said any approval from Berlin of tank deliveries to Ukraine would inevitably affect relations between Russia and Germany, which are already at a “fairly low point.”

“Of course, such deliveries do not bode well for the future of relations. They will leave an imminent trace,” Peskov added during a regular press briefing.

12:32 a.m. ET, January 25, 2023

CNN Exclusive: High-ranking Russian officials are defecting. This man is aiding them

From CNN's Melissa Bell, Saskya Vandoorne and Joseph Ataman

Vladimir Osechkin says he was walking toward his dining room table, plates of spaghetti for his children in his hands, when he spotted the red laser dancing across the wall.

He knew what was coming.

Slamming off the lights, he says he and his wife pulled their children to the ground, hurrying out of sight and into a different area of the apartment. Minutes later, Osechkin says, a would-be assassin fired, mistaking hastily arrived police officers for the Russian dissident.

For the next 30 minutes, Osechkin told CNN, his wife and children lay on the floor. His wife, nearest their children, shielded them from more bullets during the September 12 attack.

“The last 10 years I do a lot of things to protect the human rights and other people. But in this moment, I understood that my mission to help other people created a very high risk to my family,” Osechkin told CNN from France, where he’s lived since 2015 after he fled Russia and claimed asylum. He now has full-time police protection.

He’s become the champion of a growing number of high-level Russian officials defecting to the West, emboldened and disgruntled by the Kremlin’s war in Ukraine. He says ex-generals and intelligence agents are among their number.

Russian President Vladimir Putin has shown his determination to hunt the Kremlin’s perceived enemies overseas. Osechkin has been arrested in absentia in Russia and is currently on the Russian authorities “wanted list.��� France has provided him sanctuary, but security is far harder to come by.

Osechkin’s work as an investigative journalist and anti-corruption activist — which means he has made it his business to know the secrets of the Russian state — helps to a degree. Twice, he tells CNN, tip-offs have beaten the killers to his door.

“Vladimir, be careful,” a source in the Chechen diaspora texted him in February. “There has already been an offer for an advance payment to eliminate you.”

Osechkin’s response is chillingly calm. “Good evening. Wow. And how much is offered for my gray head?”

Osechkin now lives under constant armed guard, provided by the French authorities, his address and routine are secret.

Read the full story:

12:15 a.m. ET, January 25, 2023

Germany's parliament will debate sending Leopard tanks to Ukraine today

From CNN's Stephanie Halasz

A Leopard 2 tank is seen during a demonstration event in Munster near Hannover, Germany, on September 28, 2011. 
A Leopard 2 tank is seen during a demonstration event in Munster near Hannover, Germany, on September 28, 2011.  (Michael Sohn/AP)

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

The opposition Christian Democratic Union (CDU) and Christian Social Union (CSU) parties 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.

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."

Newspaper is set to send its sought-after Leopard 2 tanks to Ukraine to help bolster the country’s war effort, Der Spiegel reported on Tuesday evening, attributing to unnamed sources.

German Chancellor Olaf Scholz has decided to deliver the battle tanks following “months of debate,” according to the German news outlet’s exclusive report.

9:40 p.m. ET, January 24, 2023

US is finalizing plan to send 30 Abrams tanks to Ukraine, officials say

From CNN's Oren Liebermann and Natasha Bertrand

The Biden administration is finalizing plans to send approximately 30 US-made Abrams tanks to Ukraine and could make an announcement as soon as this week, according to two officials familiar with the deliberations.

The US will also send a small number of recovery vehicles, one of the officials said. The tracked vehicles are used to assist in the repair of tanks on the battlefield or their removal for maintenance.

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

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. 

Top US national security officials have been considering steps they could take to convince Germany to send the Leopards. 

US Deputy Secretary of State Wendy Sherman said Tuesday she suspects the matter “will be resolved relatively soon.”

“I think you’ll see in the days ahead resolution of some of these issues,” she said.

Some background: The Biden administration has never taken the possibility of shipping American tanks entirely off the table, but US officials said publicly last week that now is not the right time to send the 70-ton M1 Abrams tanks because they are costly and require a significant amount of training to operate.

The tanks have instead repeatedly been floated as a long-term option — even as critics say the right time is now, as Ukraine braces for the possibility Russia will mobilize more troops and launch a new offensive.

Sky News Arabia was first to report the news that the US is considering sending the tanks.

CNN's Jennifer Hansler contributed to this report.

9:31 p.m. ET, January 24, 2023

White House official discusses complexity of learning to use Abrams tanks

From CNN's DJ Judd

The decision to send US-made Abrams tanks to Ukraine will take many factors into account, including technical considerations, White House National Security Council Senior Coordinator for Communications John Kirby told CNN on Tuesday.

“We have talked about the fact that the Abrams are an incredibly capable system but it's a very expensive system to operate and to maintain,” Kirby told CNN’s Anderson Cooper. “It has a jet engine — it doesn't mean that the Ukrainians can't learn it, it just means that we have to factor all that stuff in with any system that we're going to potentially provide to them.” 

Earlier Tuesday, CNN reported that the Biden administration is finalizing plans to send tanks to Ukraine, according to three US officials. The timing around the delivery of the tanks is still unclear and it normally takes several months to train troops to use them effectively, officials said.

Kirby acknowledged the complexity of the Abrams systems could play a role in the US’ decision to share tanks with Ukraine, adding that “with any advanced system, you have to factor in things like supply chain and maintenance time and how often can you keep them operational and how do you use them effectively.”

Ensuring Ukrainian troops are sufficiently trained on the systems “absolutely affects,” the US’ decision, he added. 

US-Russia tensions: Kirby also dismissed the idea that providing Abrams tanks might raise tensions with Russia, pointing to Moscow's attacks against civilians in Ukraine. "It is Russia that is the aggressor here, it is Russia that has escalated," he said. 

8:13 p.m. ET, January 24, 2023

2 Colombian fighters killed in Ukraine, Bogota says

From CNN's Stefano Pozzebon and Mitchell McCluskey

Two Colombians who joined the International Legion of the Ukrainian Armed Forces have died in Ukraine, the Colombian Ministry of Foreign Relations announced on Tuesday.

The Embassy of Colombia in Poland has been in contact with the relatives to organize the return of their remains, the foreign ministry said in a statement.

“The Ministry of Foreign Relations mourns the deaths of the compatriots and will stay attentive to the development of the case,” the ministry said.

The ministry did not provide further details.

8:31 p.m. ET, January 24, 2023

"Very good news": Finland's foreign minister welcomes reports that US and Germany will send tanks to Ukraine

From CNN's Amy Cassidy and Isa Soares

Finland’s Foreign Minister Pekka Haavisto welcomed reports Tuesday that the United States and Germany are planning to send battle tanks to Ukraine, telling CNN’s Isa Soares it is “very good news."

German news outlet Der Spiegel reported Tuesday that Germany is set to deliver its Leopard 2 tanks to Ukraine, citing unnamed sources. CNN reached out to the German government for comment on Tuesday evening but has not received a response.

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.

Haavisto noted while there isn't a "final confirmation" of the reported German decision yet, “there can be a connection” between both developments. Germany had indicated to the US last week that it would not send its Leopard tanks unless the US also agreed to send its Abrams tanks.

“Now of course if the Leopard 2 is moving and the Abrams moving on the US side, Ukraine will get those weapons that they are in need of to defend their territory,” the Finnish foreign minister told CNN. “Very good news."
8:31 p.m. ET, January 24, 2023

US finalizing plans to send Abrams tanks to Ukraine, US officials say

From CNN's Natasha Bertrand and Oren Liebermann

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.

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

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.

Top national security officials in the administration have been actively considering steps they could take to convince Germany to send the Leopards.

On Friday, at a meeting of Western defense leaders in Germany, the US and its allies failed to convince German officials to send the Leopards as part of Berlin’s next round of military assistance to Ukraine. But on Tuesday, German Defense Minister Boris Pistorius said “We are preparing our decision, which will come very soon” on the tanks.

Later on Tuesday, German newspaper Der Spiegel reported that German Chancellor Olaf Scholz has decided to send Leopard tanks to Ukraine after “months of debate.”

CNN has reached out to the German government for comment.

Some background: The Biden administration has never taken the possibility of shipping American tanks entirely off the table, but US officials said publicly last week that now is not the right time to send the 70-ton M1 Abrams tanks because they are costly and require a significant amount of training to operate.

The tanks have instead repeatedly been floated as a long-term option — even as critics say the right time is now, as Ukraine braces for the possibility Russia will mobilize more troops and launch a new offensive.

Sky News Arabia was first to report the news that the US is considering sending the tanks.

Read more here.

8:31 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.