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January 6, 2023 Russia-Ukraine news
By Tara Subramaniam, Amy Woodyatt, Kathryn Snowdon, Adrienne Vogt, Matt Meyer and Leinz Vales, CNN
US ramps up aid to Ukraine – but House GOP drama causes worry over future military help
From CNN's Maegan Vazquez, Kevin Liptak and Jennifer Hansler
The Biden administration on Friday announced its largest drawdown yet in US military assistance to Ukraine, but there are lurking concerns that Republicans wielding newfound power in Washington could stand in the way of future aid – especially as chaos brews in the House.
The administration announced a new $2.85 billion drawdown for Ukraine, part of more than $3 billion in new military assistance to Ukraine. Secretary of State Antony Blinken said the administration would work with Congress to “to provide an additional $907 million of Foreign Military Financing under the Additional Ukraine Supplemental Appropriations Act, 2022.”
California GOP Rep. Kevin McCarthy, who served as House minority leader in the last session and is now pursuing the House speakership, said in October that Republicans might pull back funding for Ukraine in 2023 if they took the majority in the 2022 midterm elections. Still, after making those comments the GOP leader worked behind the scenes to reassure national security leaders in his conference that he wasn’t planning to abandon Ukraine aid and was just calling for greater oversight of any federal dollars.
But there’s now concern that McCarthy’s troubled bid for the speakership – a history-defying effort that has led to more than a dozen unsuccessful votes this week – could put further limitations on Ukraine aid.
Two of the Republicans who had opposed McCarthy until Friday afternoon – Florida Rep. Byron Donalds and Texas Rep. Chip Roy – had called on the House to change leadership and debate rules over Ukraine aid. Other Ukraine aid skeptics have continued to oppose McCarthy’s bid.
Several Republican members who switched their votes to support McCarthy on Friday said they are encouraged by a framework of an agreement, but provided no specifics about the deal and said talks are ongoing.
Ukrainian Patriot training will begin later this month
From CNN's Michael Conte
The US will start training Ukrainian forces on the Patriot missile system later this month, according to the Defense Department.
Laura Cooper, the deputy assistant secretary of defense for Russia, Ukraine, and Eurasia, said the training will take “several months.”
On Thursday the Pentagon said the US is considering bringing Ukrainians to the US to train on the Patriot missile system, as well as considering 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,” Pentagon press secretary Air Force Brig. Gen. Pat Ryder said at a press briefing Thursday.
It's nighttime in Kyiv: Here's everything you need to know
From CNN staff
On the day that Russian President Vladimir Putin ordered a unilateral 36-hour ceasefire would begin in Ukraine to observe Orthodox Christmas, the Ukrainian military reported a Russian missile strike and 12 attacks from multiple rocket launchers.
CNN is unable to verify the Ukrainian claims on attacks.
Catch up on other key developments:
- US will send nearly $3 billion in new military aid: Secretary of State Antony Blinken on Friday announced a new $2.85 billion drawdown in military assistance to Ukraine, which will include “Bradley infantry fighting vehicles, artillery systems, armored personnel carriers, surface-to-air missiles, ammunition, and other items to support Ukraine as it bravely defends its people, its sovereignty, and its territorial integrity.”
- Zelenksy meets with US senators: Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky met with Chair of the United States Senate Committee on Armed Services Jack Reed and a member of this Committee, Sen. Angus King, in Kyiv on Friday. During the meeting, Zelensky said he views the Russian proposal of a 36-hour "ceasefire" as a “manipulation by which the aggressor tries to hide its true military plans and intentions.”
- US targets Iranian drone companies with new sanctions: The US Treasury on Friday imposed sanctions on officials tied to an Iranian defense manufacturer that designs and produces unmanned aerial vehicles, which have been used in the war in Ukraine, as well as the director of “the key organization responsible for overseeing Iran’s ballistic missile programs.”
- Germany will deliver infantry vehicles to Ukraine: Germany plans to deliver around 40 Marder infantry fighting vehicles to Ukraine in the first three months of the new year, government spokesperson Steffen Hebestreit said Friday.
- Eastern Ukraine shelled ahead of so-called ceasefire: Ukraine has said that Kramatorsk and Kherson were shelled ahead of the unilateral Russian Christmas ceasefire on Friday. Kyrylo Tymoshenko, deputy head of the presidency of Ukraine, said on Telegram that in Kramatorsk, in eastern Ukraine, "occupants hit the city twice with rockets. A private residential building was hit."
US announces nearly $3 billion in new military assistance to Ukraine
From CNN's Jennifer Hansler
Secretary of State Antony Blinken on Friday announced a new $2.85 billion drawdown in military assistance to Ukraine, which will include “Bradley infantry fighting vehicles, artillery systems, armored personnel carriers, surface-to-air missiles, ammunition, and other items to support Ukraine as it bravely defends its people, its sovereignty, and its territorial integrity.”
The top US diplomat said the administration would work with Congress “to provide an additional $907 million of Foreign Military Financing under the Additional Ukraine Supplemental Appropriations Act, 2022.”
“Funds will support Ukraine and countries impacted by Russia’s war in Ukraine,” Blinken said in a statement.
Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky took to Twitter to welcome “the all-time US defense aid package."
“Thank you, POTUS for the completely new weaponry, incl Bradley vehicles, anti-aircraft missiles. It'll strengthen Ukrainian Army on a battlefield. Awesome Christmas present for Ukraine! Together with the American people we're approaching a common victory,” he wrote.
Ukraine reports one missile strike and shelling despite Putin’s so-called ceasefire
From CNN's Yulia Kesaieva in Kyiv
On the day that Russia said a unilateral 36-hour ceasefire would begin in Ukraine, the Ukrainian military reported a Russian missile strike and 12 attacks from multiple rocket launchers.
In its situational update Friday evening local time, the General Staff of the Armed Forces of Ukraine said the attacks included hits on civilian infrastructure in the eastern Donetsk and Dnipropetrovsk regions.
The General Staff did not provide timings for the attacks. Russia said its so-called ceasefire would begin at noon local time (4 a.m. ET) Friday.
“The enemy concentrates its main efforts on attempts to completely capture Donetsk region within the administrative borders," the General Staff said. "It is conducting offensive actions in the Bakhmut direction and unsuccessfully trying to improve the tactical situation in the Kupyansk, Lyman and Avdiivka directions. On the other directions it is holding the defense."
The General Staff said in the Kupyansk and Lyman directions, “the areas of 19 settlements came under enemy fire,” and in the Bakhmut direction, more than 15 settlements were hit.
Other impacted areas: It also listed shelling in the Avdiivka, Zaporizhzhia and Kherson directions.
Serhiy Hayday, head of the Luhansk region military administration, said that during "three hours of Putin's 'Christmas truce'" Russian forces fired on his region 14 times from artillery and assaulted one settlement three times.
"People in de-occupied villages have been staying in basements all day," he added on Telegram.
CNN is unable to verify the Ukrainian claims on attacks.
German Chancellor Scholz calls Zelensky after announcing latest round of military aid
From CNN‘s Nadine Schmidt in Berlin
The German government will continue with its unwavering support for Ukraine in 2023, German Chancellor Olaf Scholz told Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky in a phone call Friday, a government spokesperson said.
''In 2022, the German government provided bilateral support to Ukraine of more than €12 billion ($12.7 billion) and would continue this course in 2023,'' a statement from spokesperson Steffen Hebestreit said.
''The Chancellor reaffirmed the unbreakable solidarity with Ukraine in the face of the unleashed aggression of the Russian Federation,'' the statement continued.
Both political leaders ''exchanged views on the political, military and humanitarian situation in Ukraine,'' Hebestreit said.
The Ukrainian president briefed the German chancellor on the latest attacks carried out by the Russian military on critical infrastructure and ''thanked the German government for its decision to provide Ukraine with a Patriot anti-aircraft missile battery and Marder infantry fighting vehicles.''
The statement said that Scholz and Zelensky agreed to speak together again, ''also with a view to the Ukrainian proposals for a peace settlement, and to remain in close contact.''
Zelensky also posted about the exchange on Telegram, sharing an image of him talking on the phone.
Ukraine's President Zelensky meets with US senators and says Russian ceasefire is a "manipulation"
From CNN's Scott McLean in Kyiv
Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky met with Chair of the United States Senate Committee on Armed Services Jack Reed and a member of this Committee, Sen. Angus King, in Kyiv on Friday.
During the meeting, Zelensky said he views the Russian proposal of a 36-hour "ceasefire" as a “manipulation by which the aggressor tries to hide its true military plans and intentions.”
Following the meeting in a briefing to journalists, Reed said he told Zelensky his and his country’s sacrifice has inspired the world and “that they are fighting the fight for all of us”.
He said President Joe Biden’s announcement of additional military support, such as the Bradley Fighting Vehicles, will give Ukrainian forces “the ability to break through front lines, exploit that breakthrough and go on – we hope to – eject the Russians from Ukrainian territory”.
Asked by CNN’s Scott McLean if sending Bradley Fighting Vehicles will open the door to the US sending M-1 Abrams tanks, Reed said there is no connection.
He said he is always concerned about US stockpiles of weapons and equipment and that goes into the Pentagon decisions on what to send, in response to a question from CNN.
King said they had an “extraordinary day” in Kyiv, as he remarked on the “courage, commitment… and grit” of the Ukrainian people.
He said they were visiting because “this is a fight for us, for all the world, for the values of freedom and democracy – and that is why this commitment is necessary."
“History says dictators tend to push on open doors and if they find open doors, they will continue. If anybody wonders why this struggle is necessary, all they need to do is look back to 1938 and the Sudetenland, 1936 and the Rhineland when World War II could have been prevented by the kind of resistance that is happening right here today,” King added.
Asked what else the United States will send Ukraine to end the war this year, King said America will continue to support Ukraine and after meeting with officials in Kyiv they had “walked out with a list."
Reed said he had been “inspired” to “expedite the assistance that Ukraine needs to finish this fight.”
He said the US had made a huge commitment and to expect a further announcement soon. King said training on the Patriot defense missile system being sent to Ukraine “will begin shortly” but the length of training is classified.
US targets Iranian drone companies over ties to Russia in new sanctions
From CNN's Jennifer Hansler
The US Treasury on Friday imposed sanctions on officials tied to an Iranian defense manufacturer that designs and produces unmanned aerial vehicles, which have been used in the war in Ukraine, as well as the director of “the key organization responsible for overseeing Iran’s ballistic missile programs.”
The new US sanctions hit “six executives and board members of U.S. designated Qods Aviation Industries” and the director of Iran’s Aerospace Industries Organization, according to a Treasury press release.
“We will continue to use every tool at our disposal to deny Putin the weapons that he is using to wage his barbaric and unprovoked war on Ukraine,” Secretary of the Treasury Janet Yellen said in a statement.
“The Kremlin’s reliance on suppliers of last resort like Iran shows their desperation in the face of brave Ukrainian resistance and the success of our global coalition in disrupting Russian military supply chains and denying them the inputs they need to replace weapons lost on the battlefield,” Yellen said. “The United States will act swiftly against individuals and entities supporting Iran’s UAV and ballistic missile programs and will stand resolutely in support of the people of Ukraine.”
CNN has reported how, according to a Ukrainian intelligence assessment, parts made by more than a dozen US and Western companies were found inside a single Iranian Shahed-136 drone downed in Ukraine last fall.
In December, the White House created an administration-wide task force to investigate how US and Western-made technology – ranging from smaller equipment like semiconductors and GPS modules to larger parts like engines – has ended up in Iranian drones.
CNN's Natasha Bertrand contributed to this report.