January 16, 2023 Russia-Ukraine news

By Tara Subramaniam, Leinz Vales, Aditi Sangal, Mike Hayes, Elise Hammond and Maureen Chowdhury, CNN

Updated 3:01 a.m. ET, January 17, 2023
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5:47 a.m. ET, January 16, 2023

Death toll in Dnipro apartment block strike reaches 36

From CNN’s Olga Voitovych

Emergency personnel work at an apartment block hit by a Russian missile strike in Dnipro, Ukraine, on January 15.
Emergency personnel work at an apartment block hit by a Russian missile strike in Dnipro, Ukraine, on January 15. (Clodagh Kilcoyne/Reuters)

The death toll from a Russian missile strike on an apartment block in the Ukrainian city of Dnipro has risen to 36, including two children, according to Ukraine's National Police. 

"The debris of a high-rise building hit by a Russian missile continues to be dismantled in Dnipro," the police said on Telegram Monday, adding that 75 people were injured in the strike. 

Search and rescue operations continue and 39 people have been rescued so far. 

A CNN team on the ground in Dnipro at the site of Saturday’s apartment block strike reported air raid sirens early Monday morning.

Russian claims: Also on Monday, Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov said that the strike was the result of counter-missiles and air defense.

In response to a question about the strike, Peskov said the Russian Armed Forces only strike "against military targets, whether they are obvious or disguised," and not at residential buildings.

Some context: On Sunday, the Air Force Command of the Ukrainian Armed forces said that there was "no doubt" that a Russian Kh-22 missile was used in the strike.

Originally designed as an anti-ship missile, the Kh-22 is an older and less accurate weapon than most modern missiles.

"The Armed Forces of Ukraine lack the firepower capabilities for shooting down this type of missile," the Ukrainian command said on Facebook.

"Since the beginning of Russia's military aggression, more than 210 missiles of this type have been launched at the territory of Ukraine. None of them have been shot down by our air defense systems."

CNN reported last June that a Kh-22 missile hit a shopping center in Kremenchuk in central Ukraine, killing at least 18 people.

3:00 a.m. ET, January 16, 2023

Analysis: Europe's warm winter is robbing Putin of a trump card

Analysis from CNN's Luke McGee

Ever since Russian President Vladimir Putin ordered his troops to invade Ukraine, one question has troubled European governments more than almost any other: What happens if Moscow turns off the gas?

The threat of cutting Russian gas supplies for European countries, many of whom have relied on it for years to heat their homes and power their factories, was a trump card that Putin could play if the war he started last February dragged into a long winter.

Citizens from countries who were not directly at war with Russia might wonder, as the cold started to bite, why their comfort and livelihoods were being sacrificed on behalf of Ukraine. National leaders, feeling domestic pressure, might agitate for sanctions to be softened or for peace to be brokered on terms favorable to Moscow, it was thought.

“There’s a traditional view in Russia that one of its best assets in warfare is general winter,” explains Keir Giles, a senior consulting fellow at think tank Chatham House.

“In this case, Russia sought to exploit winter to augment the power of another tool in its box: the energy weapon. Russia was counting on a winter freeze to bring Europe to its senses and convince publics across the continent that support for Ukraine was not worth the pain in their wallets,” Giles adds.

But that long chill has yet to pass. Western and Central Europe have enjoyed a milder winter than expected, which, along with a coordinated drive to reduce gas consumption, has taken one of Putin’s largest bargaining chips out of his hands.

As we head further into 2023, European governments now have a window of opportunity to get their ducks in a row and reduce reliance on Russian gas before another winter comes around. Doing so could play a crucial role in maintaining the West’s united front as the war drags on.

Read the full analysis here.

3:18 a.m. ET, January 16, 2023

Rockets hit Donetsk residential area, Russia-backed official says

From CNN's Josh Pennington

Emergency personnel work among debris at the site where a building was heavily damaged in Donetsk in Russian-controlled Ukraine, on January 16.
Emergency personnel work among debris at the site where a building was heavily damaged in Donetsk in Russian-controlled Ukraine, on January 16. (Alexander Ermochenko/Reuters)

Three rockets hit Donetsk in eastern Ukraine early Monday, the head of the city's Russia-backed administration said.

In a Telegram post, Alexei Kulemzin said a shopping complex, pharmacy, meat-packing plant and residential building in the Kalininsky district were damaged as a result of the strike.

Search and rescue operations are underway and there are no reported casualties so far, Kulemzin added. 

Remember: The city of Donetsk has been held by Moscow-backed separatists since 2014. Moscow regards it as Russian territory since claiming last year in violation of international law that it had annexed all of the Donetsk region — including the approximately 40% that lies outside Russian control.

1:37 a.m. ET, January 16, 2023

Russian shelling damages homes and civilian infrastructure in Nikopol

From CNN's Josh Pennington 

The southern Ukrainian city of Nikopol was struck by shells in the early hours of Monday, a Ukrainian military official said.

Valentyn Reznichenko, head of the Dnipropetrovsk regional military administration, said in a Telegram post that more than a dozen homes, several power lines and a gas main were damaged.

At least 15 shells struck Marhanetsk and Chervonohryhorivsk, two settlements on the outskirts of Nikopol, he said.

No casualties were reported, he added.

1:27 a.m. ET, January 16, 2023

Zaporizhzhia shelled overnight, city official says

From CNN's Josh Pennington 

Russian forces shelled the southeastern city of Zaporizhzhia overnight, according to a Ukrainian official.

In a Telegram post Monday, Zaporizhzhia city council secretary Anatoliy Kurtiev said several people were injured and homes were damaged in the attacks.

Three people, including a 9-year-old and a 15-year-old, were taken to the hospital for treatment, he added.

Zaporizhzhia was among a number of Ukrainian regions targeted by Russia over the weekend as missile strikes against the country's utility infrastructure led to emergency power cuts.

1:11 a.m. ET, January 16, 2023

"The closer I got, the more it looked like hell": Dnipro reels from deadly Russian strike

From CNN's Tim Lister, Fred Pleitgen and Svitlana Vlasova in Dnipro, Ukraine

Rescue missions continue in the aftermath of a large attack on an apartment building in Dnipro on January 15.
Rescue missions continue in the aftermath of a large attack on an apartment building in Dnipro on January 15. (State Emergency Service of Ukraine)

In Dnipro, there is grief, exhaustion and anger.

Early on Saturday afternoon, as families relaxed at home in the central Ukrainian city, a Russian cruise missile struck a nine-story apartment building overlooking a park near the river, killing at least 35 people.

The core of that building is now gone, transformed into a mountain of jumbled concrete. Apartments were sliced in half when the missile — with a warhead of nearly one metric ton — penetrated all the way to the basement.

Svitlana Lishchynska, who lives in a neighboring building, said the impact shook everything from the walls of her home.

“At the same moment, my daughter, who had gone for a walk with her friend, called and told me about the loud explosions. I ran to her. The closer I got, the more it looked like hell,” she said.

“When I got there, I froze — the two entrances simply did not exist anymore. They had turned into a pile of concrete and a gaping hole. It was a picture of the apocalypse. Everyone was in a kind of stupor, because it was impossible to believe that this was happening to us.”

Some 36 hours after the strike, smoke was still drifting into the frozen air as heat was released from its impact. Rescue crews clambered over the debris, their hopes of finding anyone else alive dimming by the hour.

Up to 35 people remain unaccounted for, according to Ukrainian officials. The last person to be rescued was heard calling out soon after midnight on Saturday. It took nine hours to reach her, by which time she had severe hypothermia.

Read more here.

8:23 p.m. ET, January 15, 2023

Battle for Soledar continues "without any respite, without any stop," Zelensky says

From CNN's Mariya Knight

The fight for the embattled eastern town of Soledar is ongoing, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky said in his nightly address Sunday. 

“The battle for Soledar, for Bakhmut, for the whole Donetsk region, for the Luhansk region continues without any respite, without any stop,” Zelensky said, referring to eastern territories that have seen some of the conflict's fiercest fighting.

Russia claims its forces have taken Soledar after weeks of brutal clashes, which Kyiv has denied. The leader of the Wagner mercenary group has taken credit for the bulk of the fighting on Moscow's side and also claimed victory there.

Ukrainian authorities reported "heavy battles" were ongoing in the town Saturday.

1:11 a.m. ET, January 16, 2023

Russian missile strike on apartment building in Dnipro kills 35 people, Ukraine officials say

From CNN's Denis Lapin, Olga Voitovych, Tim Lister, Hannah Ritchie and Mariya Knight

The death toll from a Russian missile strike on an apartment block in Dnipro rose to 35, Ukrainian officials said on Monday, after missiles and explosions were heard across the country.

Valentyn Reznichenko, head of the Dnipropetrovsk regional military administration, said 39 people, including 14 children, had been rescued so far and up to 35 people could still be under the rubble.

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky had previously said that “dozens” of people, including a 3-year-old girl, were rescued from the building even though most of the floors were “smashed” in the strike.

According to the president, 72 apartments were destroyed and more than 230 apartments were damaged in Saturday’s strikes.

Read more here.

7:38 p.m. ET, January 15, 2023

Russia's war in Ukraine sparked a historic food crisis. It's not over

From CNN's Julia Horowitz

Grain is once again leaving Ukrainian ports. The price of fertilizer is falling sharply. Billions of dollars in aid has been mobilized.

Yet the world is still in the grips of the worst food crisis in modern history, as Russia’s war in Ukraine shakes global agricultural systems already grappling with the effects of extreme weather and the pandemic. Market conditions may have improved in recent months, but experts do not expect imminent relief.

That means more pain for vulnerable communities already struggling with hunger. It also boosts the risk of starvation and famine in countries such as Somalia, which is contending with what the United Nations describes as a “catastrophic” food emergency.

“All the major causes of the food crisis are still with us — conflict, Covid, climate change, high fuel prices,” Cary Fowler, the US special envoy for global food security, told CNN. “I do think we have to prepare for 2023 being a rough year.”

Read more here.