January 27, 2023 Russia-Ukraine news

By Tara Subramaniam, Amy Woodyatt, Hannah Strange, Aditi Sangal, Adrienne Vogt and Leinz Vales, CNN

Updated 12:12 p.m. ET, January 29, 2023
21 Posts
Sort byDropdown arrow
9:42 a.m. ET, January 27, 2023

It will take "many months" for Abrams tanks to be on the ground in Ukraine, White House spokesperson says

From CNN's DJ Judd and Kaitlan Collins

A US Army M1 Abrams tank drives across a road during a multinational exercise at the Hohenfels training area in Bavaria, Germany, on June 8, 2022.
A US Army M1 Abrams tank drives across a road during a multinational exercise at the Hohenfels training area in Bavaria, Germany, on June 8, 2022. (Nicolas Armer/picture alliance/Getty Images)

John Kirby, a White House national security spokesperson, told CNN Friday the newly announced tranche of Abrams tanks announced by the US as part of this week’s aid to Ukraine “will take many months before they can get on the ground.”

Despite this timeline, Kirby said the Biden administration is “not going to waste time” in providing training and shoring up supply chains to ensure Ukrainian forces are best equipped to use them when they eventually arrive in Ukraine.

Pressed by CNN's Kaitlan Collins, however, Kirby declined to say if he believes they’ll arrive by the end of 2023.

“I don't want to get too specific, because we're still working the plans out, but it'll be many months,” Kirby told Kaitlan, but that in the meantime, a shipment of Leopard tanks courtesy of Germany will arrive on the ground in Ukraine “in short order.”

Kirby also wouldn’t say whether US President Joe Biden is considering a trip to the region to mark the one-year anniversary of Russia’s invasion, but told CNN Biden is “in close contact with President Zelensky — they speak quite frequently, quite often.”

“I think that, you know, the President would certainly, at whatever appropriate time, would be willing to do [travel] to Ukraine. But we're not at that point right now,” he said.

9:02 a.m. ET, January 27, 2023

First Ukrainian soldiers have arrived in Germany for tank training, defense ministry says

From CNN’s Nadine Schmidt in Berlin and Allegra Goodwin in London 

Germany’s defense ministry on Friday confirmed Ukrainian soldiers have arrived in the country for training on the Marder infantry fighting vehicles Berlin has agreed to provide to the war-torn nation. 

“Ukrainian soldiers have arrived in Germany for training on the Marder infantry fighting vehicle,” a spokesperson from the country's defense ministry told reporters at a press briefing.  

Earlier this month, Germany said it would provide Ukraine with 40 of the Marder vehicles and an additional Patriot anti-aircraft missile battery.   

Germany's defense ministry told CNN Friday that the training would take place in Munster, Lower Saxony, and is expected to be completed by the end of March.  

The Marder is an infantry fighting vehicle used by the German military since the early 1970’s but continuously upgraded. While the German military is in the process of phasing the vehicle out, hundreds are still in service.   

An infantry fighting vehicle is a heavily armed armored vehicle used to move soldiers around the battlefield. It’s usually deployed together with main battle tanks.  

On Wednesday, German Chancellor Olaf Scholz announced the additional delivery of 14 Leopard 2 A6 tanks to Ukraine. Training for Ukrainian soldiers on how to use the advanced battle tanks is set to begin “soon” in Germany, according to the defense ministry.  

12:12 p.m. ET, January 29, 2023

Ukrainian officials say troops are facing "permanent" assault in the east as heavy shelling continues 

From CNN’s Jo Shelley in London and Maria Kostenko in Kyiv 

Ukrainian servicemen fire a 2S7 Pion self-propelled gun toward Russian positions on a frontline near Bakhmut in Donetsk region, Ukraine, on January 24.
Ukrainian servicemen fire a 2S7 Pion self-propelled gun toward Russian positions on a frontline near Bakhmut in Donetsk region, Ukraine, on January 24. (Oleksandr Ratushniak/Reuters)

Ukraine’s eastern front line is under heavy shelling, with the town of Vuhledar facing “permanent” assault, the governor of the Donetsk region, Pavlo Kyrylenko, said on Telegram Friday morning.  

Two people died over the past 24 hours in what Kyrylenko described as the “permanent shelling of Vuhledar.” 

He also reported two instances of "massive artillery shelling of Avdiivka overnight."

Russian forces continued to shell towns in the east during the day on Friday, Kyrylenko said in a later post. The town of Chasiv Yar, to the west of Bakhmut, had been shelled for over an hour and a half on Friday morning, leaving two people dead and five wounded, and damaging “around ten houses.” 

A spokesperson for Ukraine’s military told one broadcast outlet that Russia was “constantly” trying to advance in the east, using “a barrage of personnel” to try and break through Ukrainian defenses. 

“The Russians are trying to break through our defenses, ignoring enormous losses of their own. It used to be a barrage of fire, now it is barrage of personnel," Serhii Cherevatyi, a spokesperson for Ukraine's armed forces in the east, told UATV on Friday.

“They are constantly assaulting, trying to move forward,” he said. “Their key weapon now is manpower. In Bakhmut, those are the Wagner PMC but not exclusively… In Vuhledar, the key assault forces are marines and infantry units, along with conscripts.” 

7:58 a.m. ET, January 27, 2023

It's mid-afternoon in Kyiv. Here's the latest on Russia's war in Ukraine

From CNN staff

A senior European Union official accused Russia on Friday of taking its war against Ukraine to a “different stage” by taking aim at civilians and non-military targets, prompting Germany and the US to supply military equipment to Ukraine in order for the country to better defend themselves.

Speaking at a press conference in Tokyo, the secretary general of the European Union’s European External Action Service, Stefano Sannino, said Russia had “moved from a concept of special operation to a concept now of a war against NATO and the West.”

“I think that this latest development in terms of armed supply is just an evolution of the situation and of the way Russia started moving the war into a different stage,” Sannino, said, adding that Putin was launching “indiscriminate attacks against civilians and against cities.”

Here's what else is happening:

Annexed Ukrainian regions to be put on Moscow time: The occupied parts of four Ukrainian regions -- the Donetsk, Luhansk, Kherson and Zaporizhzhia regions -- which Russia declared it had annexed in September will be ordered to use Moscow time, according to a post on Russia's Ministry of Industry and Trade’s Telegram channel. 

Kremlin says Washington "demonizing" Russian private mercenary Wagner group: The Kremlin said Friday that Washington has been “demonizing” the Russian private mercenary organization Wagner Group for years, following the US Treasury's decision to designate the group as a significant transnational criminal organization. The Treasury Department on Thursday designated the group, which is heavily involved in the war in Ukraine, as a significant transnational criminal organization, and imposed a slew of sanctions on a transnational network that supports it.

"Substantial damage” to Ukraine’s power grid after missile attack: Ukrenergo, Ukraine's state-run energy operator, has said Thursday's Russian missile strikes resulted in “substantial damage” to the power grid. Russia launched 70 missiles at Ukraine on Thursday, 47 of which were intercepted, the Ukrainian Armed Forces said in its daily operational update on Facebook, and Moscow's forces also carried out 44 airstrikes, including 18 using Iranian-made Shahed-136 drones.

Djokovic's father responds to criticism after posing with fan wearing pro-Russia "Z" symbol: The father of tennis star Novak Djokovic has responded to criticism after a video emerged on Wednesday of him at the Australian Open posing with fans holding Russia flags, voicing his support for Russia. In a statement Friday that stopped short of an apology, Srdjan Djokovic said he was in Melbourne "to support my son only," and "had no intention of causing such headlines or disruption."  

9:43 a.m. ET, January 27, 2023

"It’s disgusting": Russians react with defiance, anger and worry as a new phase of war looms

From CNN's Rob Picheta and Claudio Otto

Russia’s tightly-controlled state media has responded angrily to the shipments of Western tanks pledged to Ukraine this week -- and that anger is shared by some Moscow residents.

Ukraine’s tanks “are going to hinder our troops,” Sergei told CNN in Russia’s capital. “But we are going to win regardless. It’s just enlarging the conflict,” he said, repeating the Kremlin narrative that Ukraine is a puppet government of the West.

“It’s going to bring on another world war,” an older woman added. “We remember WWII well, when I was just a kid. No one is going to win another world war.”

But that isn’t the only view found on Moscow’s streets. A number of Russians expressed exasperation with the conflict, and some were directly critical of President Vladimir Putin.

“It’s disgusting... they never should have started the war,” one woman said, calling Putin “guilty” of the invasion.

“There is a lack of public information,” another person said, expressing their frustration with the pro-war propaganda that fills Russia’s airwaves. “People should be explained things … it would be good if the experts started expressing their real opinions instead of obeying orders, from the government and Putin.”

Others feel the time is right for a Russian exit. “I think that this is a political war, and not a war for the people. Let them resolve this,” another woman said.

"What are we supposed to do? Our opinion means diddly squat.”

A film student, who has friends fighting in the conflict, said: “I’m on the verge of tears here. I just wish this special military operation never started in the first place, this war, and that human life was really valued.”

7:46 a.m. ET, January 27, 2023

Chief of UN refugee agency says Russia is violating "fundamental principles of child protection" in Ukraine

From CNN’s Duarte Mendonca in London

United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees Filippo Grandi talks with a journalist in Kyiv, Ukraine, on January 26.
United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees Filippo Grandi talks with a journalist in Kyiv, Ukraine, on January 26. (Sergei Supinsky/AFP/Getty Images)

The United Nations' refugee agency chief on Friday accused Russia of violating the "fundamental principles of child protection in situations of war" by giving Ukrainian children Russian passports and putting them up for adoption.  

“In a situation of war, you cannot determine if children have families or guardianship. And therefore, until that is clarified, you cannot give them another nationality or having them adopted by another family,” said Filippo Grandi, high commissioner of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees. "This is something that is happening in Russia and must not happen.” 

Due to limited access in Russia, Grandi said he could not provide statistics because it was “difficult to pinpoint the concrete aspects” to determine the number of children who had been given passports or put up for adoption.

"We are seeking access all the time, and access has been rather rare, sporadic and not unfettered,” he added.  

Russia had previously dismissed accusations that Ukrainian children have been abducted.  

"We categorically reject unfounded allegations that the Russian authorities are kidnapping children," Russian diplomat at the United Nations Dmitry Polyansky said last year, Russian state media TASS reported.  

Following a meeting with UNHCR's Grandi on Wednesday, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky called for a mechanism to return children and adults "forcibly deported to Russia" and "to bring to justice all those responsible for deportation."

Maria Kostenko and Anna Chernova contributed to this report. 

6:57 a.m. ET, January 27, 2023

Annexed Ukrainian regions to be put on Moscow time

From CNN’s Anna Chernova 

Russian President Vladimir Putin, center, with Ukrainian separatist regional leaders Vladimir Saldo, left, Yevgeniy Balitsky, second left, Leonid Pasechnik, right and Denis Pushilin, second right, seen during the annexation ceremony of four Ukrainian regions at the Grand Kremlin Palace, September 30, in Moscow, Russia.
Russian President Vladimir Putin, center, with Ukrainian separatist regional leaders Vladimir Saldo, left, Yevgeniy Balitsky, second left, Leonid Pasechnik, right and Denis Pushilin, second right, seen during the annexation ceremony of four Ukrainian regions at the Grand Kremlin Palace, September 30, in Moscow, Russia. (Getty Images)

The occupied parts of four Ukrainian regions which Russia declared it had annexed in September will be ordered to use Moscow time, according to a post on the Ministry of Industry and Trade’s Telegram channel. 

The Donetsk, Luhansk, Kherson and Zaporizhzhia regions will become part of Russia’s second time zone. “A draft law… has already been submitted to the government,” the post read.   

How did we get here? In September, President Vladimir Putin announced Russia would seize of nearly a fifth of Ukraine, declaring that the millions of people living there would be Russian citizens “forever.”

Under the annexation process, which is illegal under international law, Moscow said it would recognize four Ukrainian regions as Russian territory: Luhansk and Donetsk -- home to two Russian-backed breakaway republics where fighting has been ongoing since 2014 -- as well as Kherson and Zaporizhzhia, much of which have been occupied by Russian forces since shortly after the invasion began.

Putin’s announcement followed so-called referendums in the regions that were universally dismissed as “shams” by Ukraine and Western nations.

5:46 a.m. ET, January 27, 2023

Kremlin says Washington "demonizing" Russian private mercenary Wagner group

From CNN’s Anna Chernova

The Kremlin said Friday that Washington has been “demonizing” the Russian private mercenary organization Wagner group for years, following the US Treasury's decision to designate the group as a significant transnational criminal organization.

“Yesterday was not the first time we heard such statements from Washington demonizing PMC (Private Military Contractor) Wagner. This has been going on for many years,” said Kremlin spokesperson Dmitry Peskov.

"Such statements from Washington are unfounded. We never see any intelligible arguments,” he added.

Here's some background: The US Treasury Department on Thursday designated the Wagner Group, which is heavily involved in the war in Ukraine, as a significant transnational criminal organization, and imposed a slew of sanctions on a transnational network that supports it.

The Treasury Department also imposed sanctions for its illicit activities in the Central African Republic, saying in its statement "the Wagner Group has also meddled and destabilized countries in Africa, committing widespread human rights abuses and extorting natural resources from their people.”

Peskov said Friday there was "no evidence or confirmation" provided to the public about claims of the group's involvement in the Central African Republic.

The US Department of State concurrently announced a number of sanctions meant to “target a range of Wagner’s key infrastructure -- including an aviation firm used by Wagner, a Wagner propaganda organization, and Wagner front companies,” according to US Secretary of State Antony Blinken.

Read more:

5:35 a.m. ET, January 27, 2023

EU accuses Russia of "indiscriminate attacks" against Ukraine, taking war to a "different stage"

From CNN’s Duarte Mendonca

Secretary General of the European Union's European External Action Service Stefano Sannino speaks during a press conference at the Foreign Correspondents' Club on January 27, in Tokyo, Japan.
Secretary General of the European Union's European External Action Service Stefano Sannino speaks during a press conference at the Foreign Correspondents' Club on January 27, in Tokyo, Japan. (Eugene Hoshiko/AP)

A senior European Union official accused Russia on Friday of taking its war against Ukraine to a “different stage” by taking aim at civilians and non-military targets, prompting Germany and the US to supply military equipment to Ukraine in order for the country to better defend themselves.

Speaking at a press conference in Tokyo, the secretary general of the European Union’s European External Action Service, Stefano Sannino, said Russia had “moved from a concept of special operation to a concept now of a war against NATO and the West.”

“I think that this latest development in terms of armed supply is just an evolution of the situation and of the way Russia started moving the war into a different stage,” Sannino, said, adding that Putin was launching “indiscriminate attacks against civilians and against cities.”

The EU’s latest actions are aimed at “just giving the possibility of saving lives and allowing the Ukrainians to defend (themselves) from these barbaric attacks,” he added.

Tanks promised: The leaders of the United States and Germany each announced Wednesday they will send contingents of tanks to Ukraine, reversing their longstanding trepidation at providing Kyiv with offensive armored vehicles and unleashing powerful new tools in Ukraine’s efforts to retake territory seized by Russia.

The announcement by German Chancellor Olaf Scholz that he will send Leopard 2 tanks was coupled with an announcement from US President Joe Biden that he was providing 31 M1 Abrams tanks to Ukraine, reversing the administration’s longstanding resistance to requests from Kyiv for the highly sophisticated but maintenance-heavy vehicles.

The dual announcements made for a landmark moment that followed weeks of intense pressure on Berlin from some of its NATO allies. The decisions were the result of prolonged diplomacy between Germany, the United States and other European allies, and come as Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky prepares for a new Russian offensive this spring.