January 25, 2023 - Russia-Ukraine news

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

Updated 1:57 PM ET, Thu January 26, 2023
26 Posts
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7:27 a.m. ET, January 25, 2023

German defense minister says Leopard 2 tanks could be in Ukraine in around three months

From CNN's Stephanie Halasz

German Defense Minister Boris Pistorius attends a weekly cabinet at the chancellery in Berlin, Germany, on Janaury 25.
German Defense Minister Boris Pistorius attends a weekly cabinet at the chancellery in Berlin, Germany, on Janaury 25. (Markus Schreiber/AP)

German Defense Minister Boris Pistorius has said that Leopard 2 tanks could be operational in Ukraine in about three months.

Training will be carried out first and then the tanks will be sent to Kyiv, he told reporters.

Pistorius said that Wednesday's decision to send Leopard 2 tanks to Ukraine was "historic."

And Germany will discuss further weapons systems deliveries to Ukraine for as long as the war continues, he added.

However, it is important that “we do not become party to the war,” said Pistorius, warning that the decision to deliver Leopard 2s was no reason to be jubilant.

6:51 a.m. ET, January 25, 2023

Ukraine confirms its troops have withdrawn from Soledar

From CNN’s Maria Kostenko in Kyiv

Ukrainian troops have withdrawn from the eastern salt mining town of Soledar, a military spokesperson told CNN by telephone on Wednesday.

Russia claimed earlier this month that its forces had captured Soledar, but the Ukrainians have not previously confirmed that the town has fallen.

“The Ukrainian Armed Forces withdrew from Soledar to save the lives of their personnel," said Serhii Cherevatyi, a spokesman for the Ukrainian Armed Forces. "We withdrew as planned, unit by unit.”

Cherevatyi said that the nearby city of Bakhmut remains under sustained attack from Russian forces, and that “fierce fighting is taking place there.”

6:35 a.m. ET, January 25, 2023

Polish prime minister applauds German chancellor over decision to send Leopard tanks to Ukraine

From CNN’s Antonia Mortensen, Allegra Goodwin and Pierre Bairin

Polish Prime Minister Mateusz Morawiecki has praised German Chancellor Olaf Scholz for his decision to allow German-made Leopard 2 battle tanks to be sent to Ukraine. 

“Thank you Olaf Scholz. The decision to send Leopards to Ukraine is a big step towards stopping Russia. Together we are stronger,” Morawiecki said in a tweet.

Poland has been pushing Germany to send Leopard 2s, or at least allow third countries to re-export them.

According to German law, weapons intended for warfare that are manufactured in the country cannot be re-exported without the federal government’s approval.

On Tuesday, Poland’s defense minister said the country had formally asked for approval from Germany to transfer some of its own Leopard 2 tanks to Ukraine.

The French government also issued a statement welcoming the German government’s decision to send Leopard 2s to Ukraine.

"France welcomes the German decision, which extends and amplifies the support we have given with the delivery of the AMX10 RC," it said.

AMX 10-RCs are French-made light battle tanks.

6:27 a.m. ET, January 25, 2023

Ukraine needs "a lot" of Leopard 2 tanks, says Zelensky aide

From CNN’s Maria Kostenko in Kyiv

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky’s chief of staff has welcomed the news that Germany will send his country Leopard 2 combat tanks, and reiterated they needed “a lot” of them.

 "The first tank step has been taken," said Andriy Yermak on Telegram. "Next up is the ‘tank coalition’. We need a lot of Leopards."

7:25 a.m. ET, January 25, 2023

Germany's Leopard 2 decision "absolutely logical," says economics minister

From CNN's Stephanie Halasz

Robert Habeck, Federal Minister for the Economy and Climate Protection, comes out of the Chancellor's Office after a Federal Cabinet meeting in Berlin, Germany, on January 25.
Robert Habeck, Federal Minister for the Economy and Climate Protection, comes out of the Chancellor's Office after a Federal Cabinet meeting in Berlin, Germany, on January 25. (Kay Nietfeld/picture alliance via Getty Images)

Germany's decision to send Leopard 2 tanks to Ukraine is "absolutely logical," the country's Economics Minister and Vice Chancellor Robert Habeck has said.

"Ukraine has been defending itself for almost a year against Russia's attack, which is contrary to international law. It is defending its territorial integrity and its freedom with a tenacity that impresses me anew every day," said Habeck in a statement.

"And I am convinced that it is our responsibility to support them in this -- together with our European and international partners, especially the USA."

Habeck said that it is important to "weigh things up carefully" before adjusting the level of support to Ukraine.

"The decisions we have now taken are therefore absolutely logical," he said. 

“In close cooperation with our partners, we are supplying battle tanks to Ukraine so that it can better defend itself against Russian aggression, and we are also making this possible for our partners," added Habeck.

"Ukraine's right to self-defense applies, and we support it in this with great strength.”

6:21 a.m. ET, January 25, 2023

Russia to establish more than 20 correctional facilities in occupied regions of Ukraine

From CNN's Radina Gigova, Maria Kostenko and Anna Chernova

The Russian government has ordered the establishment of more than 20 correctional facilities in the occupied regions of Ukraine, a government document shows.

The correctional facilities will be established in the four regions that Russia claims to have illegally annexed -- Donetsk, Luhansk, Kherson and Zaporizhzhia -- according to the document, which was published Tuesday on the official Russian government portal of legal information.

“The main purpose of the activities of the institutions (... ) is the execution of criminal punishment in the form of forced labor, as specified by the Criminal Code of the Russian Federation," the document reads.

Most of the facilities are prison colonies, three are forced labor facilities and three are medical correctional institutions.

The document was signed by Russian Prime Minister Mikhail Mishustin.

7:25 a.m. ET, January 25, 2023

Germany to ship an initial 14 Leopard 2 tanks to Ukraine

From CNN's Stephanie Halasz

A Leopard 2 A7 tank of the German armed forces drives at the military training area in Munster, northern Germany, on October 13, 2017.
A Leopard 2 A7 tank of the German armed forces drives at the military training area in Munster, northern Germany, on October 13, 2017. (Patrik Stollarz/AFP/Getty Images)

Germany will provide 14 Leopard 2 tanks from its own stocks as part of a first shipment to Ukraine, according to a government statement.

"The goal is to quickly assemble two tank battalions with Leopard 2 tanks for Ukraine," the statement said. Deliveries from European partners are to make up the remainder.

Germany confirmed that it will authorize the re-export of Leopard 2 tanks from other countries. Re-export of German-made weapons requires permission from the German government under national law.

"Germany will give the partner countries that want to quickly deliver Leopard 2 tanks from their stocks to Ukraine the corresponding authorizations to transfer them," reads the statement.

Poland has been pushing Germany to allow it to send some of its Leopard 2 tanks to Ukraine, and formally requested permission to do so on Tuesday.

Germany will also host Ukrainian tank crews so they can learn about the Leopard 2.

"The training of the Ukrainian crews is to begin quickly in Germany," reads the statement. "In addition to training, the package will also include logistics, ammunition and maintenance of the systems."

6:02 a.m. ET, January 25, 2023

Abrams tanks "will burn down just like the others" if sent to Ukraine, says Kremlin

From CNN's Anna Chernova and Radina Gigova

US M1A2 Abrams tanks stand of the 1st Brigade of the 3rd Infantry Division (Raider Brigade) in Grafenwoehr, Bavaria, Germany on July 13.
US M1A2 Abrams tanks stand of the 1st Brigade of the 3rd Infantry Division (Raider Brigade) in Grafenwoehr, Bavaria, Germany on July 13. (Daniel Karmann/picture-alliance/dpa/AP)

If the US sends its Abrams tanks to Ukraine they will "burn down just like all the others," Kremlin spokesperson Dmitry Peskov said Wednesday. 

“I am convinced that many experts understand the absurdity of this idea as well, this plan is quite a failure in terms of technological aspects,” Peskov told reporters during a regular conference call.

“We repeat that these tanks will burn down just like all the others. Only they cost a lot, and all this will fall primarily on the shoulders of European taxpayers,” he added. 

US officials familiar with the negotiations said the Biden administration is finalizing plans to send approximately 30 US-made Abrams tanks to Ukraine.

Previously, Russia's Ambassador to the US Anatoly Antonov said Russian armed forces will destroy US-made Abrams tanks and other NATO military equipment if they are supplied to Ukraine.

"If a decision to transfer to Kiev M1 Abrams is made, American tanks without any doubt will be destroyed as all other samples of NATO military equipment," said Antonov in a statement late Tuesday.

7:24 a.m. ET, January 25, 2023

Germany announces delivery of Leopard 2 tanks to Ukraine

From CNN's Stephanie Halasz

Leopard tanks of the Bundeswehr Panzerlehrbrigade 9 during a presentation of capabilities by the unit on May 20, 2019 in Munster, Germany.
Leopard tanks of the Bundeswehr Panzerlehrbrigade 9 during a presentation of capabilities by the unit on May 20, 2019 in Munster, Germany. (Morris MacMatzen/Getty Images)

Germany has confirmed that it will send Leopard 2 tanks to Ukraine, following weeks of diplomatic pressure to do so.

Chancellor Olaf Scholz announced the move in a cabinet meeting Wednesday, according to federal government spokesman Steffen Hebestreit.

"This is the result of intensive consultations that took place with Germany's closest European and international partners," Scholz said, according to the statement. "This decision follows our well-known line of supporting Ukraine to the best of our ability.”