January 28, 2023 Russia-Ukraine news

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

Updated 2249 GMT (0649 HKT) January 28, 2023
14 Posts
Sort byDropdown arrow
5:48 p.m. ET, January 28, 2023

We've wrapped up our live coverage for the day. You can read more on Russia's invasion of Ukraine here, or scroll through the updates below.

5:38 p.m. ET, January 28, 2023

This map shows the latest state of control in Ukraine

The Ukrainian military reported more fighting and Russian missile strikes along the eastern front of the conflict this week.

Moscow's forces pounded the town of Vuhledar, located in the Donetsk region, with nearly 300 rockets and artillery shells in one day, according to a Ukrainian military spokesperson.

Ukraine also said its troops were engaged in "fierce fighting" around the eastern city of Bakhmut this week, and that its military has withdrawn from the nearby town of Soledar.

This map shows the latest:

5:28 p.m. ET, January 28, 2023

Zelensky says supply of long-range missiles will be “vital” in wake of recent attacks

From CNN's Mariya Knight

Local residents stand at a site of a Russian missile strike in Kostyantynivka, Donetsk region, on Saturday, January 28.
Local residents stand at a site of a Russian missile strike in Kostyantynivka, Donetsk region, on Saturday, January 28. (Oleksandr Ratushniak/Reuters)

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky called the supply of long-range Army Tactical Missile Systems, or ATACMS, “vital” in his nightly address Saturday.

“We will do everything we can to ensure that partners open up this vital supply, in particular, of ATACMS and other similar weapons,” Zelensky said. “Because it is necessary to protect life; protection of such cities as Kostyantynivka or, for example, Kharkiv."

The surface-to-surface missiles can fly around 200 miles, about four times the distance of the rockets used by the HIMARS mobile systems the US began sending to Ukraine four months ago.

Zelensky said an attack on the city of Kostyantynivka in the Donetsk region earlier Saturday left three people dead and 14 others wounded. He called the shelling “a daily occurrence” on Ukraine’s territories and said, “there can be no taboos in the supply of weapons to protect against Russian terror.”

The US has refused to send ATACMS to Ukraine out of concern they could be used to attack targets inside Russia.

New sanctions: Zelensky also mentioned that he put into effect new sanctions on “185 legal entities and individuals that Russia uses to transport personnel and military equipment by railroad.”

“Their assets in Ukraine are blocked, and their existing property will be used for our defense. We will work to ensure that a similar blocking is applied by other countries,” Zelensky said.

Pressure on Olympic Committee: The Ukrainian president wrote a letter to the presidents of the International Sports Federations with a call to reconsider the decision of the International Olympic Committee to allow the return of Russian athletes at international competitions.

Once “Russian athletes appear at international competitions, it is only a matter of time before they start justifying Russia's aggression and using the symbols of terror,” Zelensky argued.

He called the International Olympic Committee decision “an unprincipled flexibility.”

3:54 p.m. ET, January 28, 2023

German arms manufacturer CEO calls for increase in country's defense budget

From CNN's Jorge Engels

Armin Papperger, CEO of German defense and automotive group Rheinmetall, is pictured during a Reuters interview in Duesseldorf, Germany, on Friday, January 27.
Armin Papperger, CEO of German defense and automotive group Rheinmetall, is pictured during a Reuters interview in Duesseldorf, Germany, on Friday, January 27. (Jana Rodenbusch/Reuters)

The leader of one of Germany’s largest arms manufacturers said the country’s increased military budget of 100 billion euros (around $108 billion) is “too low” to meet the government's goal of modernizing Germany’s military capacity.

German Chancellor Olaf Scholz announced the bolstered budget days after Russia’s invasion of Ukraine in February 2022.

“Many people talk about the fact that the defense budget is too low, and I can confirm that,” Rheinmetall CEO Armin Papperger told Reuters this week in a video interview. 

“Last year, for example, we were not able to deliver trucks or ammunition because there was no budget, because there was no money," the CEO said. 

In the interview, Papperger praised newly appointed German Defense Minister Boris Pistorius for the “absolute record” time it took the two to have a conversation.

“Mr. Pistorius is the 11th defense minister I have seen in my time at Rheinmetall. And never has anyone wanted to meet with us so quickly. I think that is important, we are living in special times, we have war in Europe,” he said. 

Germany's special defense fund, which was set up last year, is no longer enough to cover its requirements, Pistorius said in an interview with German newspaper Süddeutsche Zeitung published on Friday.

He also said sending fighter jets to Ukraine was "out of the question" after the country agreed to provide Leopard 2 tanks earlier in the week.

The Rheinmetall CEO said in the interview his company could increase its production of tank rounds to over 100,000 “today,” and that the arms manufacturer has a total capacity of over 240,000 rounds, but for a bottleneck of gunpowder. 

He added that the gunpowder shortage was being compounded by the demand to produce both tank and artillery shells.

“That means we would actually need a further powder capacity in Europe and ideally one in Germany," Papperger said. 

The CEO said his company would need financial assistance from the German government if it wanted to build another ammunitions factory to meet that potential demand. 

"It would be a relatively large plant as we would need to build a specialized chemical plant that would carry an estimated cost of between 700 and 800 million euros (between about $761 million and $871 million),” Papperger said. 

“This is an investment that cannot be borne by the industry alone, but is an investment in national security, which is needed,” he added. 

A Rheinmetall spokesman told CNN on Tuesday that even though it has 139 Leopard tanks in stock, only 29 modern Leopard 2 combat tanks could be ready for delivery as early as April or May, as they are being prepared for a weapons ring exchange. Rheinmetall would need about a year to prepare another 22 Leopard 2 vehicles that it has in stock, he added.

CNN's Inke Kappeler and Claudia Otto in Berlin contributed reporting to this post.

12:50 p.m. ET, January 28, 2023

Finnish foreign minister: No progress expected in NATO bids of Finland and Sweden before Turkish elections

From CNN’s Jorge Engels and Sugam Pokharel

Finnish Foreign Minister Pekka Haavisto speaks at a press conference on January 25.
Finnish Foreign Minister Pekka Haavisto speaks at a press conference on January 25. (Gints Ivuskans/AFP/Getty Images)

The Finnish foreign minister does not expect progress on the NATO membership bids of his country and Sweden before Turkey's elections in May, but believes the Scandinavian nations remain on course for eventually joining the military alliance, Finnish public broadcaster Yle reported Saturday.

"In my view, the road to NATO has not closed for either country," Foreign Minister Pekka Haavisto said, according to Yle. 

Finland and Sweden are seeking to join NATO after Moscow’s assault on Ukraine sparked renewed security concern across the region. But Turkey has previously raised objections — and under NATO rules, just one member state can veto a new applicant’s membership.

Haavisto’s remarks come days after Ankara called for a three-way meeting in February between Turkey, Sweden and Finland to be postponed, according to Turkish state broadcaster TRT Haber, which cited unnamed diplomatic sources. 

How it got to this point: Turkish-Swedish relations suffered a major blow last week after Stockholm Police authorized a protest outside Stockholm’s Turkish Embassy last Saturday, in which anti-immigration politician Rasmus Paludan set a copy of the Quran on fire. Protesters quickly took to the streets in the Turkish capital, where some burned the Sweden's flag outside its embassy in response.   

Turkey's state news agency Anadolu reported Thursday that the meeting around Sweden and Finland’s NATO applications was postponed in light of the current “unhealthy political environment.” 

The three countries have met in the past under the “trilateral memorandum” to discuss Sweden and Finland's NATO membership requests.  

An upcoming visit by the Swedish defense minister to Turkey was also canceled by Ankara in the immediate wake of the incident last Saturday. 

Speaking to CNN’s Isa Soares on Tuesday, the Finnish foreign minister said “there is some kind of delay because of recent events,” adding “of course, this is not good news.” 

Haavisto indicated there are no plans for Finland to proceed with its NATO membership bid without its Nordic neighbor. “We are not in a hurry, we have time to go together with Sweden,” he told CNN. 

CNN's Niamh Kennedy and Amy Cassidy contributed reporting to this post.

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.