Our live coverage of Russia's war in Ukraine has moved here.
January 5, 2023 Russia-Ukraine news
By Kathleen Magramo, Jack Guy, Ed Upright, Adrienne Vogt, Aditi Sangal and Leinz Vales, CNN
Germany will provide Ukraine with Marder infantry fighting vehicles and an additional Patriot air defense battery, German ambassador to the US Emily Haber said on Thursday.
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.
German Vice Chancellor and Economy Minister Robert Habeck on Thursday hailed his government’s “logical” decision to send more military aid to Ukraine.
"This is a good decision. Since the beginning of the war, we have increasingly expanded our support in cooperation with our partners. It is logical that we also take this step. Ukraine has the right to defend itself against the Russian attack, and we have a duty to help it do so,” he said.
Russian President Vladimir Putin announced Thursday a 36-hour temporary ceasefire in Ukraine on Jan. 6 and 7 for Orthodox Christmas. However, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky said that Russia wants to use the holiday "as a cover" to resupply and stop Ukrainian advances in the eastern Donbas region.
Here are other key developments:
- UN disbands fact-finding mission for prison attack: The United Nations has disbanded its fact-finding mission regarding an attack on a detention center that killed more than 50 prisoners of war in Ukraine’s eastern Donetsk region.
- Shelling in Kherson region: At least four people have been killed in Ukraine’s southern Kherson region on Thursday, according to Ukrainian officials.
- Increase in joint military grouping: The Belarusian Ministry of Defense announced Thursday it is continuing to increase its joint military grouping with Russia in Belarus. The ministry also announced upcoming joint air force exercises between the two countries.
- Ukraine counts economic damage: The Ukrainian economy shrunk by almost a third last year, after Russian forces invaded in February, according to a statement from the country's economy ministry. However the figure is "better than most experts expected at the beginning of the full-scale invasion, when estimates ranged from 40-50% of decline in GDP and deeper," it added.
- Church leader calls for Christmas ceasefire: Patriarch Kirill has called for a temporary 36-hour ceasefire in Ukraine to mark the Orthodox Christmas. The "Christmas truce" would allow worshippers to attend religious services, he said. Kirill has previously been a vocal supporter of the war in Ukraine, and gave a sermon in which he said that “military duty washes away all sins."
- Erdogan tells Putin he wants peace: Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has told Russian President Vladimir Putin that calls for peace and negotiations should be supported by a unilateral declaration of ceasefire and a vision of “a fair solution.” Turkey has called for an end to the conflict on multiple occasions and throughout 2022 Erdogan attempted to position himself as the broker between Putin and the West.
- DPR chief says he visited troops wounded at Makiivka: The leader of the self-declared, Russian-backed separatist Donetsk People's Republic said that he has visited troops injured in the strike on Russian barracks in the occupied Ukrainian city of Makiivka. Denis Pushilin said that he traveled to a hospital in the Russian city of Rostov where wounded soldiers are receiving treatment. CNN could not verify that the troops were those injured in the attack, or if the hospital he visited was in Rostov.
- Biden confirms US will send new military equipment: US President Joe Biden announced Thursday that the United States “intends” to supply Ukraine with another round of security assistance that will include Bradley Fighting Vehicles. The Bradley is an armored vehicle designed to transport troops on the battlefield. It is armed with several different weapons to protect the crew and to attack hostile targets. The US could announce the transfer of Bradley vehicles in the next Ukraine security package, one defense official said.
In his nightly address Thursday, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky said that Russia wants to use Orthodox Christmas "as a cover" to resupply and stop Ukrainian advances in the eastern Donbas region.
In his first comments since the Kremlin announced a 36-hour temporary ceasefire over Orthodox Christmas on Friday and Saturday, Zelensky said, in Russian:
"Now they want to use Christmas as a cover to at least briefly stop the advance of our guys in Donbas and bring equipment, ammunition and mobilized men closer to our positions. What will this accomplish? Only another increase in the casualty count."
"Everyone in the world knows how the Kremlin uses breaks in the war to continue the war with renewed vigor. And in order to end the war faster, it needs something else entirely," Zelensky said.
"We need the citizens of Russia to find the courage to free themselves of their shameful fear of one man in the Kremlin for at least 36 hours during Christmas," he appealed. "Your fear of him is destroying your country, which is also already in deep ... but not in a bunker."
Zelensky added that the war in Ukraine will end “when your soldiers either leave or we kick them out.”
The US is considering bringing Ukrainians to the US to train on the Patriot missile system and training overseas “or a combination of both,” according to a Defense Department spokesperson.
“I think clearly we’re at a point in this battle where we’re going to be able to provide that kind of training to enable Ukraine to sustain those kind of systems so that they can focus on defending their country and taking back territory,” said Pentagon Press Secretary Air Force Brig. Gen. Pat Ryder at a press briefing.
Russia’s “unilateral ceasefire” on Jan. 6 and 7 for Orthodox Christmas “cannot and should not be taken seriously,” Ukrainian Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba tweeted on Thursday.
“President Zelensky has proposed a clear Peace Formula of ten steps. Russia has been ignoring it and instead shelling Kherson on Christmas Eve, launching mass missile and drone strikes on New Year,” Kuleba said.
Separately, Denis Pushilin, the pro-Russian leader of the self-declared Donetsk People’s Republic in eastern Ukraine, said President Vladimir Putin’s order for a 36-hour temporary ceasefire will not stop Russian separatists from reacting to military actions taken by Kyiv.
“This does not mean that we will not respond to the provocations of the enemy," he said on Telegram. "Or we will give at least some chance to the enemy during these festive hours to improve their positions on the line of contact."
CNN's Uliana Pavlova contributed to this report.
The United Nations on Thursday welcomed Russia ordering a temporary ceasefire in Ukraine and urged for a complete end to the war between the two neighboring countries.
UN spokesman Stéphane Dujarric told reporters at a briefing that the organization welcomes any effort to end the conflict.
“Christmas represents a holy period for both Russians and Ukrainians. The possibility that this holy period be respected with a cessation of all hostilities is always welcomed by the Secretary General, knowing that this will not replace a just peace in line with the UN Charter and international law” he said.
US President Joe Biden announced Thursday that the United States “intends” to supply Ukraine with another round of security assistance that will include Bradley Fighting Vehicles.
The announcement was made in a readout of Biden’s phone call with German Chancellor Olaf Scholz, where they discussed the war in Ukraine. Biden said on Monday that the US was considering the move.
“President Biden and Chancellor Scholz expressed their common determination to continue to provide the necessary financial, humanitarian, military and diplomatic support to Ukraine for as long as needed. To this end, the United States intends to supply Ukraine with Bradley Infantry Fighting Vehicles, and Germany intends to provide Ukraine with Marder Infantry Fighting Vehicles. Both countries plan to train Ukrainian forces on the respective systems,” the statement said.
The United Nations has disbanded its fact-finding mission regarding an attack on a detention center that killed more than 50 prisoners of war in Ukraine’s eastern Donetsk region, UN spokesman Stéphane Dujarric said at a briefing Thursday.
“The Secretary-General has decided to disband his Fact-Finding Mission (FFM) regarding the 29 July 2022 Incident at Olenivka in Ukraine in the absence of conditions required for the deployment of the Mission to the site,” he said.
The fact-finding mission was announced on Aug. 3, 2022, following requests from Kyiv and Moscow.
“The Secretary-General reiterates his call for full respect of international humanitarian and human rights law, including the protection and treatment of prisoners of war,” Dujarric said.
The Olenivka prison had been used to house many of the Ukrainian soldiers who surrendered at the Azovstal plant in Mariupol.
Read more here.