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
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11:48 a.m. ET, January 25, 2023

Leopard tanks "will significantly strengthen" Ukraine's combat capabilities, NATO chief says

(CNN)
(CNN)

NATO Security General Jens Stoltenberg welcomed Germany’s announcement of Leopard 2 tanks to Ukraine, telling CNN that it “will significantly strengthen their combat capabilities.”

"We have seen how the Russians are digging in and are building fortifications," Stoltenberg said. "If we want Ukraine to be able to both to defend against upcoming Russian offenses, we know the Russians are planning for new offenses, and also if we want Ukraine to be able to retake territory, we need to give them more armor, more heavy and modern weapons."

Berlin said it will provide a company of 14 Leopard 2 A6 tanks from Bundeswehr stocks, with the training of the Ukrainian crews to begin quickly in Germany. In addition to training, the package will also include logistics, ammunition and maintenance of the systems.

Asked if the introduction of the Leopard tanks and reports that the US is finalizing its plans to send Abrams tanks will give Ukraine the capability to win, Stoltenberg said Western allies "need to provide even more support, not only to ensure that Ukraine survives but actually ensure that Ukraine is able to liberate more territory, win and prevail as a sovereign."

11:36 a.m. ET, January 25, 2023

Biden spoke with other foreign leaders ahead of White House remarks on Ukraine 

From CNN's Betsy Klein

US President Joe Biden spoke with his German, United Kingdom, Italian and French counterparts Wednesday morning, moments before he’s set to give remarks on continued support for Ukraine in the Roosevelt Room. 

The White House said Biden spoke with President Macron of France, Chancellor Scholz of Germany, Prime Minister Meloni of Italy, and Prime Minister Sunak of the United Kingdom "as part of our close coordination on support for Ukraine.” 

Biden's remarks come after Germany confirmed it will send a long-demanded contingent of Leopard 2 tanks to Ukraine and as CNN reports the US is finalizing plans to send US-made Abrams tanks to Ukraine.

11:09 a.m. ET, January 25, 2023

Ukrainian defense minister says "more good news" to be announced following call with US counterpart

From CNN’s Sarah Dean in Kyiv

Ukraine's Defense Minister Oleksii Reznikov had a phone call with US Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin on Wednesday, Reznikov tweeted.

“Discussed the results of #Ramstein 8, further strengthening of #UAarmy, including tanks supplies&maintenance of the new armament,” the Ukrainian official said, adding that “more good news” will be announced soon.

See the tweet:

10:54 a.m. ET, January 25, 2023

War in Ukraine has disrupted the education of more than 5 million children, UNICEF says

From CNN's Maria Kostenko in Kyiv

Ukrainian evacuees queue as they wait for further transport at the Medyka border crossing in southeastern Poland, on March 29.
Ukrainian evacuees queue as they wait for further transport at the Medyka border crossing in southeastern Poland, on March 29. (Angelos Tzortzinis/AFP/Getty Images)

The ongoing war in Ukraine has disrupted education for more than 5 million children, UNICEF said in a statement on Tuesday.

According to UNICEF, the impact of the 11 months of war only compounds the two years of learning lost to the Covid-19 pandemic, and more than eight years of war for children in eastern Ukraine.

“There is no pause button. It is not an option to simply postpone children’s education and come back to it once other priorities have been addressed, without risking the future of an entire generation,” Afshan Khan, UNICEF Regional Director for Europe and Central Asia said.

Some context: Explosive weapons being used, especially in populated areas have left thousands of schools, pre-schools or other education facilities across the country damaged or destroyed, and have led to many parents and caretakers reluctant to send children to school amid safety concerns, according to UNICEF.

Attacks on electricity and other energy infrastructure have caused widespread blackouts, impacting the more than 1.9 million children utilizing online learning opportunities and the 1.3 million children enrolled in a combination of in-person and online learning.

Outside of the country, an estimated two out of three Ukrainian refugee children are not currently enrolled in the host country’s education system.

11:10 a.m. ET, January 25, 2023

Zaporizhzhia city struck in Russian attack, city council says

From CNN's Maria Kostenko and Yulia Kesaieva in Kyiv

The southeastern Ukrainian city of Zaporizhzhia came under Russian attack on Wednesday, according to the city council.

One woman has been killed, Anatoliy Kurtiev, secretary for Zaporizhzhia's City Council, said on Telegram. “We offer our sincere condolences to her family and friends,” he said.

“The damned Russian creatures have viciously attacked Zaporizhzhia today in broad daylight. A private house in one of the city's districts was destroyed as a result of an enemy strike.”

10:29 a.m. ET, January 25, 2023

UNESCO adds Ukrainian city of Odesa to World Heritage List

From CNN's Hira Humayun, Laura Smith-Spark and Mick Krever.

The National Academic Theatre of Opera and Ballet reopened in Odessa, Ukraine, on June 22.
The National Academic Theatre of Opera and Ballet reopened in Odessa, Ukraine, on June 22. (Matteo Placucci/NurPhoto/Getty Images)

 

The United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) on Wednesday said that it had added the Ukrainian city of Odesa to its World Heritage List.

Under UNESCO’s founding Convention members, that include Russia and Ukraine, are obligated to “not take any deliberate measures that directly or indirectly damage their heritage or that of another State Party to the Convention.”

Audrey Azoulay, director-general of UNESCO, said in a statement that he hoped it would help protect Odesa from the war.

“Odesa, a free city, a world city, a legendary port that has left its mark on cinema, literature and the arts, is thus placed under the reinforced protection of the international community,” Azoulay said. “While the war continues, this inscription embodies our collective determination to ensure that this city, which has always surmounted global upheavals, is preserved from further destruction.”

The statement said that the decision would give Ukraine access to “technical and financial international assistance” to protect and rehabilitate the city center.

9:52 a.m. ET, January 25, 2023

Ukraine's foreign minister thanks Polish counterpart for tank pledge and says "fighter jets" are next goal

From CNN's Mick Krever

Ukraine's Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba talks during an interview in Kyiv, Ukraine, on December 26.
Ukraine's Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba talks during an interview in Kyiv, Ukraine, on December 26. (Efrem Lukatsky/AP)

Ukraine’s foreign minister said Wednesday that he had thanked his Polish counterpart in a phone call for leading the way on pledging Leopard 2 battle tanks.

“I had a call with @RauZbigniew and thanked Poland which was the first country to publicly announce Leopard 2 delivery, thus contributing crucially to the forming of the tank coalition,” Dmytro Kuleba said on Twitter.

“We have new tasks ahead: Western-type fighter jets, sanctions, Peace Formula implementation.”

He said that the two discussed how better to support passenger and cargo rail between Poland and Ukraine.

9:59 a.m. ET, January 25, 2023

Man who claims to be former Wagner commander will be released from detention with restrictions, police say

From CNN's Radina Gigova in London

An alleged former commander in Russia’s Wagner private military company, who fled to Norway to seek asylum after crossing the country’s arctic border, will be released from police detention on Wednesday and is "subject to duty to stay in a specific place," Norway's National Police said in a statement to CNN.

Andrei Medvedev told the head of human rights advocacy group Gulagu.net, Vladimir Osechkin, earlier in January that he feared for his life after refusing to renew his service with Wagner.

"The National Police Immigration Service will release Medvedev from the Police Detention Centre today, subject to duty to stay in a specific place," said the acting head of the National Police Immigration Service's legal section, Jon Andreas Johansen.
"The decision is due to the fact that the conditions for keeping him detained under the Immigration Act, section 106, are no longer in place," Johansen said.

"Anyone seeking protection in Norway are entitled to somewhere to stay. The Norwegian Directorate of Immigration are responsible for ensuring that asylum seekers in Norway have somewhere to stay. The responsibility for assessing individuals' safety and the need for security measures rests with the relevant police district," he said.

Some more context: On Monday, Gulagu.net head Osechkin said in a statement posted on YouTube that Medvedev called him from the detention center after authorities arrested him on Sunday, and said he is appealing to the Prime Minister of Norway and journalists for protection and to prevent a possible deportation.

9:36 a.m. ET, January 25, 2023

Spanish police arrest suspect over letter bombs

From CNN’s Al Goodman in Madrid 

Police officers take security measures around Ukrainian Embassy in Madrid, Spain, after blast took place when an embassy worker opened an envelope on November 30, 2022.
Police officers take security measures around Ukrainian Embassy in Madrid, Spain, after blast took place when an embassy worker opened an envelope on November 30, 2022. (Burak Akbulut/Anadolu Agency/Getty Images)

Police in Spain have arrested a Spanish man on suspicion of sending six letter bombs to the Spanish prime minister, the Ukrainian ambassador in Madrid, and other high-profile targets late last year, the country’s interior ministry said in a statement Wednesday.  

The arrest of the 74-year-old suspect took place in the town of Miranda de Ebro, about a three-hour drive north of Madrid, the ministry press office said.   

Police said the suspect is retired, is “very active on social media” and has technical and computer knowledge, according to a statement. 

Police determined that the suspect participated in sending the six letters from the city of Burgos, about an hour’s drive southwest of Miranda de Ebro.

Although “it’s presumed that the suspect made and sent the explosive devices on his own, the police don’t rule out the participation or influence of other people in these events,” the ministry said. 

Police searched the home of the suspect in Miranda de Ebro, where it is thought that the bombs were assembled, according to the statement. 

The investigation spanned various provinces before the arrest of the suspect. He was not fully identified, but police provided his initials as "P.G.P.," the statement added.

The arrest of the suspect is part of an ongoing operation coordinated by an investigating magistrate at Spain’s National Court in Madrid, the interior ministry said.   

The suspect is expected to be arraigned before a National Court judge on Friday in a closed-door hearing, the court's press office told CNN. 

Some background: The only reported injury from the six letter bombs was at the Ukrainian Embassy in Madrid last Nov. 30. An embassy employee was injured while handling the letter, which was addressed to the Ukrainian ambassador, Spanish officials said at the time.   

Authorities said that the other five letter bombs, all intercepted by security screening and resulting in no injuries, were sent in late November or early December.

They were sent to the Spanish prime minister, Spain’s defense minister, the US Embassy in Madrid, a Spanish air force base near Madrid and a Spanish arms maker in the northern city of Zaragoza.  

Spanish media reported that weapons from the Spanish arms maker, Instalaza, had reportedly been sent by Spain last year to help Ukraine in its fight against Russia’s invasion of that country. The company has declined to comment to CNN about the reports.   

On Dec. 1, 2022, the ministry ordered increased security at embassies and consulates in Spain, and at other sites requiring special protection. Security had already been boosted after the start of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine in February of last year.  

After the spate of letter bombs, the Russian embassy in Madrid tweeted that it condemned the sending of such devices. 

“We condemn any threat or terrorist act,” it tweeted.

But US officials believe that Russian intelligence officers directed a Russian White supremacist group to carry out the letter-bombing campaign as a warning to European governments which have rallied around Ukraine since Russia’s invasion.