January 28, 2023 Russia-Ukraine news

By Matt Meyer, Adrienne Vogt and Tori B. Powell, CNN

Updated 2249 GMT (0649 HKT) January 28, 2023
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12:45 p.m. ET, January 28, 2023

Ukraine says Russia launched nearly 300 strikes at eastern Donetsk region town in the past day

From CNN's Kostan Nechyporenko and Andrew Carey in Kyiv

Damaged buildings are seen in Vuhledar, Ukraine, on Friday, January 27.
Damaged buildings are seen in Vuhledar, Ukraine, on Friday, January 27. (72nd Separate Mechanized Brigade/Facebook/Reuters)

Russia is pounding the eastern Ukrainian town of Vuhledar with missile strikes, according to a spokesperson for the Ukrainian military.

The Eastern Grouping of the Ukrainian Armed Forces' Serhii Cherevatyi said that in the past day, Russian forces had fired some 299 rockets and artillery shells at the town, which is about 40 kilometers (approximately 25 miles) southwest of the city of Donetsk.

“The Russians have been trying to break through our defenses near Vuhledar. … Now they are also concentrating their forces there, concentrating aggressive, powerful strikes on our defense,” Cherevatyi said on Ukrainian television Saturday. 
“In principle, the purpose and the direction of their attacks are obvious. They want to break through our defense and move on to the Pokrovsk and Dobropillia areas. And the goal of all these aggressive actions in this direction, and in the direction of Bakhmut, is to capture our Ukrainian Donbas,” he added. 

Some more context: Military analysts believe Russia may have an additional reason for stepping up its activities around Vuhledar: To tie up Ukrainian forces defending the town in order to weaken Ukraine’s defenses to the north. Russia may also be planning an offensive in the neighboring Luhansk region, experts say, as well as continuing efforts to capture Bakhmut.

4:15 p.m. ET, January 28, 2023

What we know so far about the number of tanks pledged to Ukraine from each country

Who has promised what, when it comes to tanks for Ukraine?

Several countries have offered to send the fighting vehicles, but not all have confirmed how many they plan to send. Here's what we know:

Leopard 2 - 32 tanks total

  • Germany - 14
  • Poland - 14
  • Canada - 4

M1 Abrams - 31 tanks total

  • United States - 31

Challenger 2 - 14 tanks total

  • United Kingdom - 14

In addition to the 14 Leopard 2 tanks pledged, Poland said on Friday that it will send 60 more modern battles tanks to Ukraine.

Spain has is "willing to send some of its Leopard 2 tanks to Ukraine," according to its defense minister.

Norway is reportedly considering whether to send some Leopard 2 tanks.

The Netherlands would "seriously consider" purchasing 18 Leopard 2 tanks it leases from Germany and sending them to Ukraine, the prime minister said. It doesn't own any of the tanks.

11:05 a.m. ET, January 28, 2023

Western allies have committed to sending tanks to Ukraine. Here's how those vehicles stack up

8:42 a.m. ET, January 28, 2023

Japan approves more sanctions on Russia, according to Japanese public broadcaster 

From CNN’s Gabby Gretener

The Japanese government approved additional sanctions on Russia at a cabinet meeting Friday, according to Japan's public broadcaster NHK.

NHK reported that the new sanctions include:

  • banning exports to 49 more entities
  • freezing the assets of three entities and 36 people with ties to the Russian government and pro-Russian groups in Ukraine
  • adding more items to the list of banned exports to Russia

Deputy Chief Cabinet Secretary Seiji Kihara spoke to reporters after the meeting and said Japan will continue to work with the international community and support Ukraine. 

9:29 a.m. ET, January 28, 2023

3 civilians killed in Russian strike on town in Donetsk region

From Kostan Nechyporenko in Kyiv

Local residents stand at the site of a Russian missile strike in Kostiantynivka, Ukraine, on January 28.
Local residents stand at the site of a Russian missile strike in Kostiantynivka, Ukraine, on January 28. (Oleksandr Ratushniak/Reuters)

Three civilians were killed and at least two wounded Saturday morning by a Russian strike on the town of Kostiantynivka in the eastern Donetsk region, according to a local official.

A residential area was struck, damaging four high-rise buildings, a hotel, garages and cars, said Pavlo Kyrylenko, head of the Donetsk region military administration.

9:32 a.m. ET, January 28, 2023

Poland will send 60 more tanks to Ukraine, prime minister says

From CNN's Niamh Kennedy and Sugam Pokharel

Polish Prime Minister Mateusz Morawiecki speaks during a press conference in 2022.
Polish Prime Minister Mateusz Morawiecki speaks during a press conference in 2022. (Heikki Saukkomaa/Lehtikuva/AFP/Getty Images) 

Poland plans to send 60 more modern battle tanks to Ukraine in addition to the 14 Leopard 2 tanks it has already pledged, according to Polish Prime Minister Mateusz Morawiecki.  

Morawiecki is glad Poland could "convince our allies and partners from Western Europe that they should be much more active in supporting Ukraine," the prime minister told Canadian broadcaster CTV on Friday.

Germany's decided earlier this week to send Leopard 2 tanks to Ukraine after much diplomatic discussion.

Morawiecki said Poland likes to "lead by example," and touted the country's decision to send 250 tanks to Ukraine last year, adding that they were first country to do so.

"Right now, we are ready to send 60 of our modernized tanks, 30 of them PT-91," the prime minister said, referencing the country's main battle tank, PT-91 Twardy. "And on top of those tanks, 14 tanks, Leopard 2 tanks, from in our possession."

Poland, he said, has made a habit of telling its partners “how many tanks we've already delivered.”   

“I have quoted President Zelensky (to explain) how important it is in this kind of war to have modern tanks. Russians have several thousands, or some say even more than 15,000, of the tanks in their stores,” Morawiecki added.  

Poland last week harshly criticized Germany’s initial hesitancy to approve Warsaw's request to transfer some of its German-made Leopard 2 tanks to Ukraine.  

8:30 a.m. ET, January 28, 2023

German defense minister rules out sending fighter jets to Ukraine

From Nadine Schmidt in Berlin

Germany's Defense Minister Boris Pistorius has ruled out Germany sending fighter jets to Ukraine, according to an interview with German newspaper Süddeutsche Zeitung on Friday.

''This is out of the question," Pistorius is quoted as saying when asked whether Germany would send fighter jets to Kyiv.

It follows renewed public appeals by Ukraine’s government for Western fighter jets after Germany approved the delivery of Leopard 2 battle tanks earlier this week.

"Fighter aircrafts are much more complex systems than main battle tanks and have a completely different range and firepower. We would venture into dimensions that I would currently warn against," Pistorius said in the interview.

Pistorius, who took office last week following his predecessor's resignation, also told the newspaper that Germany's 100 billion euro ($108 billion) special defense fund, which was set up last year, is no longer enough to cover its requirements. 

"The 100 billion will not be enough," Pistorius said, adding that he believes Germany would also need to increase its annual regular defense budget, which is currently set at around 50 billion euros (about $54 billion).

Pistorius also said that Germany's decision to suspend compulsory military service in 2011 "was a mistake," adding that he was open to discussing a new model to strengthen the relationship between citizens and the state.

8:39 a.m. ET, January 28, 2023

Russia fired 2 hypersonic Kinzhal missiles Thursday, Ukraine says

From CNN’s Vasco Cotovio in London and Maria Kostenko in Kyiv

Two of the 70 missiles fired by Russia toward Ukraine on Thursday were Kinzhal-type hypersonic missiles, the Ukrainian Air Force said, calling on the West to provide them with advance air defense systems that are capable of shooting these down.

“We need Patriot and SAMP/T systems to be able to (intercept these missiles),” Ukrainian Air Force Command spokesperson Yurii Ihnat said during a briefing.

SAMP/T systems are used for air defense primarily in Europe.

The United States has said it will send Patriot air defense systems to Ukraine, but the systems do not appear to be operational in the country yet. Ukrainian troops were set to begin training on the Patriot system this month at Fort Sill in Oklahoma, where the US conducts its own training on operating and maintaining the advanced air defense system.

France and Italy are finalizing an agreement to send SAMP/T systems to Ukraine, with an agreement expected in the coming weeks. 

8:37 a.m. ET, January 28, 2023

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

From CNN’s Duarte Mendonca

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.