January 24, 2023 - Russia-Ukraine news

By Tara Subramaniam, Jack Guy, Adrienne Vogt, Leinz Vales and Mike Hayes, CNN

Updated 11:20 a.m. ET, March 6, 2023
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9:08 a.m. ET, January 24, 2023

Putin admits shortage and increased prices of some drugs in pharmacies

From CNN's Radina Gigova in London 

Russian President Vladmir Putin said Tuesday that inspections have indicated a shortage of some drugs in Russian pharmacies as well as an increase in prices, according to state news agency TASS.

“The fact is that, firstly, our prices have grown lately and there has been a certain shortage of some medicines, despite the fact that we have seen an increase in the production of pharmaceutical products,” Putin said during a virtual meeting with members of the government.

“In the first three quarters of last year it was about 22% up, with domestically manufactured drugs accounting for 60% of our market," Putin said, according to TASS.  

"Nevertheless, there is a shortage of certain drugs, and their prices have risen," he added. 

Some context: Shops in Moscow have shuttered as businesses face the economic fall-out from massive Western sanctions in response to the war in Ukraine. While the shelves in most stores remain well stocked, Western products are becoming increasingly scarce and very expensive, further driving prices that are already hammering many Russian households.

8:59 a.m. ET, January 24, 2023

Poland will request compensation from the EU for any Leopard tanks sent to Ukraine

From CNN's Lindsay Isaac

Soldiers on a Polish Leopard tank take part in the DEFENDER-Europe 22 military exercise, in Nowogard, Poland, on May 19, 2022.
Soldiers on a Polish Leopard tank take part in the DEFENDER-Europe 22 military exercise, in Nowogard, Poland, on May 19, 2022. (Wojtek Radwanski/AFP/Getty Images)

Poland will ask for reimbursement from the European Union for any Leopard tanks it sends to Ukraine, the Polish prime minister said Tuesday.

In an interview with Polish broadcaster TVN, Mateusz Morawiecki said the request will be “another test of the goodwill of the European Union,” and added that he hopes it will happen.

The German government has received the Polish request to export German-made Leopard 2 battle tanks to Ukraine, a spokesperson told CNN.

Germany has so far resisted calls from Poland, the US and a handful of other NATO countries to transfer the tanks into Ukraine, or authorize other countries to send some of their Leopards to Kyiv.

That position has led to a weekslong spat between German and Polish leaders, with Morawiecki accusing Germany of “wasting time” by failing to come to a decision.

“We are preparing our decision and it will come very soon,” German Defense Minister Boris Pistorius said during a joint news conference with NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg Tuesday, adding that if the decision is to send the tanks, Germany would be able to “act very soon."

CNN's Rob Picheta and Antonia Mortensen contributed to this post.

6:46 p.m. ET, January 24, 2023

It's mid-afternoon in Kyiv. Here's what you need to know

From CNN staff

Poland has officially requested permission to re-export German-made Leopard 2 battle tanks to Ukraine. A German government spokesman would not say how quickly a possible approval could happen, but said the process would take place with “necessary urgency.” 

In Ukraine, a number of officials have left their government posts amid a renewed anti-corruption drive from President Volodymyr Zelensky.

Here are the latest headlines:

  • Poland appeals to Berlin: After confirming that Poland has requested permission to send German-made tanks to Ukraine, Polish defense minister Mariusz Blaszczak said: "I also appeal to the German side to join the coalition of countries supporting Ukraine with Leopard 2 tanks. This is our common cause, because it is about the security of the whole of Europe!”
  • NATO chief believes decision is coming: NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg has said that he is “confident” a decision on sending German-made Leopard tanks to Ukraine will be made "soon."
  • Government shake-up in Kyiv: The recent changes to “personnel” within Ukraine's government prove that Zelensky “sees and hears society," according to a presidential adviser. Multiple Ukrainian officials have resigned or been sacked, amid allegations of corruption.
  • Russia to tighten border controls: Russian lawmakers have drafted a bill requiring citizens to register online to book a specific date and time for crossing the country's borders, state news agency TASS reported Tuesday. However Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov has denied that Moscow is planning to restrict freedom of travel.
  • Russian general "likely" dismissed: A top Russian general who oversaw a withdrawal of Moscow's forces from Ukraine's southern Kherson region two months ago has "likely" been dismissed as a key operational commander in the war, according to Britain's defense minister.

The current map of control:

8:41 a.m. ET, January 24, 2023

As conflict rages on, Shakhtar Donetsk wants to send a positive message with "miracle" season

From CNN's Don Riddell and George Ramsay

Oleksandr Zubkov of Shakhtar celebrates a goal during the UEFA Champions League Group F match between Real Madrid and Shakhtar Donetsk at Santiago Bernabeu stadium on October 05, in Madrid, Spain.
Oleksandr Zubkov of Shakhtar celebrates a goal during the UEFA Champions League Group F match between Real Madrid and Shakhtar Donetsk at Santiago Bernabeu stadium on October 05, in Madrid, Spain. (Oscar J. Barroso/Europa Press/Getty Images)

Uprooted from its home in Ukraine’s Donbas region in 2014, soccer club Shakhtar Donetsk  is accustomed to the change and upheaval brought about by war having played at stadiums around the country for close to a decade.

But even by Shakhtar’s standards, the events that have unfolded since Russia’s invasion of Ukraine last February have been unprecedented.

“What we’re doing on the pitch, it’s in support of our people, our refugees, our Ukrainian Army,” the club’s CEO Sergei Palkin tells CNN Sports.

All the speeches from our coaching staff and myself to our players have just concentrated on (the fact) that we are playing for Ukraine.”

At the start of Russia’s invasion, the Ukrainian Premier League was postponed for six months, in which time Shakhtar embarked on a “Global Tour for Peace” across Europe to raise money for those caught up in the war.

Read the full story here.

8:35 a.m. ET, January 24, 2023

Western allies urge Ukraine to shift from brutal eastern battles to focus on a southern offensive

From CNN's Natasha Bertrand, Alex Marquardt and Katie Bo Lillis

Ukrainian servicemen fire an anti-aircraft gun towards Russian positions on a frontline near the town of Bakhmut in Donetsk region, Ukraine, on January 15.
Ukrainian servicemen fire an anti-aircraft gun towards Russian positions on a frontline near the town of Bakhmut in Donetsk region, Ukraine, on January 15. (Oleksandr Ratushniak/Reuters)

US and Western officials are urging Ukraine to shift its focus from the brutal, months-long fight in the eastern city of Bakhmut and prioritize instead a potential offensive in the south, using a different style of fighting that takes advantage of the billions of dollars in new military hardware recently committed by Western allies, US and Ukrainian officials tell CNN.

For nearly six months, Ukrainian forces have been going toe-to-toe with the Russians over roughly 36 miles of territory in Bakhmut, which lies between the separatist-held cities of Donetsk and Luhansk. Heavy shelling has left the city almost completely destroyed.

“It is a brutal and grinding fight,” a senior Western intelligence official said last week, with each side exchanging anywhere from 100-400 meters of land per day and exchanging several thousands of artillery rounds almost daily.

[Bakhmut] is less attractive militarily, in terms of any sort of infrastructure, than it might have been if it had not been this destroyed.”

Now, ahead of what is widely expected to be a brutal spring of fighting, there is a tactical opening, US and Western officials say. In recent weeks they have begun suggesting that Ukrainian forces cut their losses in Bakhmut, which they argue has little strategic significance for Ukraine, and focus instead on planning an offensive in the south.

That was part of a message delivered by three top Biden officials who traveled to Kyiv last week.

Read the full story here:

7:27 a.m. ET, January 24, 2023

Germany confirms it has received Polish request to send Leopard 2 tanks to Ukraine

From CNN's Stephanie Halasz

A Leopard 2 combat tank in action at the 9th Panzerlehr Brigade of the German Bundeswehr in Munster, northern Germany, on February 7.
A Leopard 2 combat tank in action at the 9th Panzerlehr Brigade of the German Bundeswehr in Munster, northern Germany, on February 7. (Focke Strangmann/EPA-EFE/Shutterstock)

The German government has received a Polish request to export German-made Leopard 2 battle tanks to Ukraine, a spokesman told CNN.

He would not say how quickly a possible approval could happen, but said the process would take place with “necessary urgency.” 

“The Federal Government has received an application from Poland for the export of Leopard 2 tanks," the spokesman confirmed.

"As already explained by government spokesman Steffen Hebestreit at yesterday's government press conference, applications for the approval of an arms export are examined with the necessary urgency in accordance with the established procedures and arms export guidelines,” he added.

10:26 a.m. ET, January 24, 2023

More officials dismissed from Ukrainian government as part of "personnel" changes

From CNN's Jo Shelley and Kostan Nechyporenko

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky delivers his nightly address from Kyiv on January 23.
Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky delivers his nightly address from Kyiv on January 23. (President of Ukraine)

Two more deputy ministers have been dismissed from the Ukrainian government as part of the “personnel” changes announced by President Volodymyr Zelensky last night. 

“At a meeting of the Cabinet of Ministers of Ukraine on Jan. 24, a number of personnel decisions were made,” Oleh Nemchinov, the minister of the Cabinet of Ministers of Ukraine, said on Telegram. 

He said that Viacheslav Nehoda, the deputy minister of Communities and Territories Development of Ukraine, and Vitalii Muzychenko, deputy minister of Social Policy of Ukraine, had been dismissed.

They join Viacheslav Shapovalov, a deputy minister of defense, and Ivan Lukerya, a deputy minister of Communities and Territories Development, in leaving the government.

The dismissals follow that of Vasyl Lozynskyy, the acting minister of Communities and Territories Development.

Ukraine's Infrastructure Ministry said on Sunday that Lozynskyy had been arrested on suspicion of embezzlement. He has not commented on the allegations. 

In a Facebook post published on Monday, Lozynsky’s lawyer, Oleksandr Tananakin, said his client had been dismissed “before he was notified of suspicion.”

“No funds, let alone in the amounts indicated by the NABU [National Anti-Corruption Bureau, which had accused him of receiving “unlawful benefits”], were found and seized from Mr. Lozynsky,” he said.

Tananakin accused the bureau of “deliberately using manipulative tactics to inform the public in order to artificially create a representation of Lozynsky's guilt and form a negative image of him.”

In a post on his Facebook page, Nehoda said that he was “automatically subject to dismissal” because “in December, the Government decided to liquidate the Ministry of Regional Development.” He said that only two deputies were offered jobs with the minister and that all others automatically lost their jobs. “I didn't write any letter of resignation, it's not necessary at all,” he said.

In addition, the cabinet supported the dismissal of the governors of the Dnipropetrovsk, Zaporizhzhia, Kyiv, Sumy and Kherson regions, Nemchinov said.

On Monday night, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky had signaled that there would be changes to “personnel” within the Ukrainian government, without naming the people impacted. 

6:57 a.m. ET, January 24, 2023

Kremlin says travel restrictions are not being discussed after reports of new border procedures

From CNN's Anna Chernova

The Kremlin is not currently talking about the possibility of restricting citizens’ travel outside of Russia, spokesperson Dmitry Peskov said Tuesday.

“No (such plans) are not being discussed in the Kremlin,” Peskov told reporters.

Earlier Tuesday, state news agencies reported that Russian lawmakers have drafted a bill requiring citizens to register online to book a specific date and time for crossing the Russian border.

The proposed amendments will only affect freight transport, said Yevgeny Moskvichev, head of the State Duma Transport Committee, according to RIA Novosti.

The draft bill was posted online on Monday but had been taken down as of Tuesday morning, according to RIA Novosti.

The Kremlin and other Russian officials have repeatedly denied widespread speculation that Moscow is planning to close country's borders in January, and possibly announce a second wave of mobilization.

6:46 a.m. ET, January 24, 2023

Approval of tank deliveries to Ukraine would affect Russia-Germany relations, Kremlin says

From CNN's Anna Chernova and Antonia Mortensen

Berlin's approval of Leopard 2 tank deliveries to Ukraine would inevitably affect relations between Russia and Germany, which are already at a “fairly low point,” Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov said Tuesday.

Peskov said that there is currently “no substantive dialogue with Germany or with other EU and NATO countries.”

“Of course, such deliveries do not bode well for the future of relations. They will leave an imminent trace,” Peskov added during a regular press briefing.

Peskov was speaking before Poland formally asked for approval from Germany to transfer some of its German-made Leopard 2 tanks to Ukraine on Tuesday.