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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12:40 p.m. ET, January 25, 2023

Sen. Graham calls US and German tank announcements for Ukraine "a turning point in the war"

From CNN's Morgan Rimmer and Manu Raju

Sen. Lindsey Graham attends a hearing in May 2022.
Sen. Lindsey Graham attends a hearing in May 2022. (Ting Shen/Pool/Getty Images)

Republican US Sen. Lindsey Graham, who just returned from Ukraine, told CNN’s Manu Raju that he believes the Germans and Americans sending tanks to Ukraine marks “a turning point in the war.”

“What happened is a big friggin’ deal,” the South Carolina Republican said. “You’ve got the Germans and the United States making a decision that’s been long overdue. We’re all in.”

He added that he “wanted to compliment President Biden,” on taking this step.

Graham said, “I just got back from Ukraine last week, the tanks will be outcome-determinative militarily. With the tanks, they've got a fighting chance to take back their land. Without the tanks, it would be a long drawn-out war."

Graham said that Germany's decision to provide tanks is a "recognition that we can't be bullied by Putin."

"It's an all-in approach to helping Ukraine with the weapons they need," he said.

He also noted that US lawmakers will need to pass another Ukraine supplemental soon, even as some Republicans have expressed opposition to sending more aid.

“We'll need one in the next few months,” he said, adding that there's “an element of Congress who echoes the sentiments of the isolationists of World War Two." However, Graham said, he senses "a bipartisan resolve that I haven't felt before, seen before."

"Our Democratic colleagues, quite frankly, have been terrific on Ukraine and I appreciate it,” he said.

Graham added, “Those who are opposed to sending more money, these need to tell me what happens if Putin wins. What's the cost of a Putin victory in Ukraine? Will China be more likely to invade Taiwan? And does that matter? So I will debate my colleagues.”

12:39 p.m. ET, January 25, 2023

Biden outlines additional military equipment Western allies have pledged for Ukraine

President Joe Biden speaks from the White House on Wednesday.
President Joe Biden speaks from the White House on Wednesday. (Evelyn Hockstein/Reuters)

US President Joe Biden said that the Ukraine Defense Contact Group members are also sending additional military equipment following their eighth meeting last week.

Biden said the group of 50 nations are each making "significant contributions of their own to Ukraine's integrity."

"I want to thank every member of that coalition for continuing to step up," Biden added.

He said the following countries are sending military equipment and weapons:

  • United Kingdom: Donating Challenger 2 tanks to Ukraine.
  • France: Contributing AMX-10s, armored fighting vehicles and critical air defense systems.
  • Germany and United States: Leopard tanks and Patriot missile battery 
  • The Netherlands: Donating a Patriot missile and launchers 
  • Poland: Sending armored vehicles 
  • Sweden: Donating infantry fighting vehicles
  • Italy: Giving artillery 
  • Denmark and Estonia: Sending howitzers
  • Latvia: Providing for stinger missiles
  • Lithuania: Providing anti-aircraft guns
  • Finland: Announced its largest package of security assistance to date

Biden added, "France, Canada, the UK, Slovakia and Norway and others have all donated critical air defense systems to help secure Ukrainian skies and save the lives of innocent civilians who are literally the target — the target of Russia's aggression."  

1:23 p.m. ET, January 25, 2023

Norway says it will contribute to Leopard tank initiative

From CNN's Lauren Kent

Norway will contribute to allies' efforts to send Leopard 2 tanks to Ukraine, a Norwegian Defense Ministry spokesperson told CNN on Wednesday.

"We will contribute," the spokesperson said, adding that Norway has not yet released details on how many tanks it will send or the timeline for getting tanks to Ukraine. 

Norwegian defense minister Bjørn Arild Gram said in a statement Wednesday they are in "close dialogue" with allies and Ukraine on how they can contribute "in the best possible way."

"We are working as fast as we can to provide Ukraine with the support they need," Gram added. "Norway has contributed significantly throughout 2022 and will continue to support Ukraine in 2023." 

More on the tanks: CNN cannot confirm the total number of Leopard 2 tanks to be delivered, but pledges made by multiple countries so far mean the Ukrainian military is in line to receive dozens of the tanks.

Two Oslo-based newspapers reported on Tuesday that the Norwegian government was considering whether to send some of its Leopard 2 tanks to Ukraine, according to Reuters. Dagens Naeringsliv reported that Norway might contribute between 4 and 8 of the country’s 36 Leopard 2 tanks. “We do not wish to comment on these deliberations or any ongoing or future contributions," the Norwegian defense minister told CNN.

12:25 p.m. ET, January 25, 2023

Ukrainian soldier on front lines says tanks "help us a lot in battles"

From CNN's Yulia Kesaieva in Kyiv

Austrian soldiers drive a Leopard tank at a military exercise in Grafenwoehr, Germany, in 2017.
Austrian soldiers drive a Leopard tank at a military exercise in Grafenwoehr, Germany, in 2017. (Christof Stache/AFP via Getty Images)

A Ukrainian soldier fighting on the front lines in Bakhmut reacted with elation when told by CNN that Germany had given the green light for the export of Leopard 2 main battle tanks to Ukraine.

“Wow! They're giving them to us? This is really good news, because tankers help us a lot in battles, especially in Soledar. The guys worked very well there," he said. CNN is not naming the soldier for security reasons.

He told CNN that tank crews had proved incredibly helpful in Ukraine’s attempted defense of Soledar, the eastern Ukrainian town that the military finally conceded Wednesday had fallen to Russia earlier this month.

“If they put a good crew on the Leopard and give them good ammo and manage to send it here, it will be very timely help for the city,” he said of Bakhmut.

12:26 p.m. ET, January 25, 2023

Biden: Germany "didn't force me to change my mind" on sending US Abrams tanks to Ukraine

President Joe Biden speaks from the White House with Secretary of State Antony Blinken, left, and Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin behind him on Wednesday.
President Joe Biden speaks from the White House with Secretary of State Antony Blinken, left, and Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin behind him on Wednesday. (

US President Joe Biden told reporters Wednesday that Germany did not pressure him to announce sending Abrams tanks to Ukraine.

"Germany didn't force me to change my mind. We wanted to make sure we're all together," he said after delivering remarks on support to Ukraine from the White House.

This comes as Germany broke its diplomatic logjam with the US on Wednesday as it announced that it will send its Leopard 2 tanks to Ukraine.

Earlier, the two nations appeared to be in a standoff as German officials indicated Berlin would only send their Leopard 2 tanks to Ukraine if the US sent the M-1 Abrams tanks.

In his Wednesday address, Biden also said, "Germany has really stepped up. The chancellor has been a strong, strong voice for unity."

Earlier this morning, German Chancellor Olaf Scholz had told the parliament that US-German relations are stronger than they have been in a long time.

12:15 p.m. ET, January 25, 2023

Biden: US support for Ukraine is "not an offensive threat" to Russia

President Joe Biden speaks about Ukraine from the Roosevelt Room of the White House on Wednesday.
President Joe Biden speaks about Ukraine from the Roosevelt Room of the White House on Wednesday. (Susan Walsh/AP)

President Joe Biden said that the United States' support for Ukraine is "not an offensive threat" to Russia as he announced the US would send 31 tanks to Ukraine.

Biden said that this US support is about helping Ukraine "defend its sovereignty."

"That's what this is about. Helping Ukraine defend and protect Ukrainian land. It is not an offensive threat to Russia. There is no offensive threat," Biden said,

The President added that he thought Russian troops should return to "where they belong" in Russia. 

"This war would be over today. That's what we all want, an end to this war," Biden said.

12:20 p.m. ET, January 25, 2023

Biden thanks German leader for being a "strong voice for unity" on Ukraine, saying Berlin "really stepped up"

In what he called a "worldwide" effort to support Ukraine, US President Joe Biden thanked Germany for stepping up aid to the war.

Germany had indicated that it would send its Leopard 2 tanks to Ukraine if the United States offered up tanks of its own. Biden announced Wednesday he plans to send 31 M1 Abrams tanks to Ukraine.

"Germany has really stepped up. The chancellor has been a strong, strong voice for unity," Biden said as he made the announcement from the White House.

"I'm grateful to Chancellor Scholz for providing German Leopard 2 tanks and will lead an effort to organize the European contribution of two tank battalions for Ukraine. I want to thank the chancellor for his leadership and his steadfast commitment to our collective efforts to support Ukraine," he said.

Helping Ukraine fight off Russian aggression is "a worldwide commitment," the president said.

12:17 p.m. ET, January 25, 2023

Biden announces he's sending 31 Abrams tanks to Ukraine

From CNN's Kevin Liptak and Betsy Klein

(Pool)
(Pool)

President Biden announced Wednesday that he plans to send 31 M1 Abrams tanks to Ukraine, reversing the administration’s longstanding resistance to requests from Kyiv for the highly sophisticated but maintenance-heavy vehicles.

Biden said US Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin recommended this move because it will strengthen Ukraine's capacity to "defend its territory and achieve its strategic objectives."

"The Abrams tanks are the most capable tanks in the world. They're also extremely complex to operate and maintain, so we're also giving Ukraine the parts and equipment necessary to effectively sustain these tanks on the battlefield. We'll begin to train the Ukrainian troops on these issues of sustainment, logistics and maintenance as soon as possible," Biden said in remarks from the White House.

The Abrams will take months to arrive, senior administration officials said, and will require extensive training for Ukrainian troops on how to operate and service them. The US must navigate complicated supply chains for the components required for the tanks. 

"Delivering these tanks to the field is going to take time. Time that we'll see and we'll use to make sure the Ukrainians are fully prepared to integrate the Abrams tanks into their defenses," Biden added.

As recently as last week, top US officials cited those obstacles as barriers to providing the vehicles to Ukraine. Yet after an intensive bout of diplomacy with Germany, who had made clear it would only send its Leopard 2 tanks to Ukraine if the United States offered up the Abrams, Biden has given the sign-off on sending the vehicles. The 31 Abrams will form a complete Ukrainian tank battalion. 

“This is a tremendous new capability that Ukraine will be getting to boost its long term defenses," a senior administration official said, noting that the tanks will be procured through the Ukraine Security Assistance Initiative funding.

US soldiers stand with a M1 Abrams tank in Hohenfels, Germany, in 2022.
US soldiers stand with a M1 Abrams tank in Hohenfels, Germany, in 2022. (Nicolas Armer/picture alliance via Getty Images)

12:10 p.m. ET, January 25, 2023

Biden: US and Europe are fully united in support of Ukraine 

From CNN's Aditi Sangal

(Pool)
(Pool)

Marking 11 months of Russia's war in Ukraine as of yesterday, US President Joe Biden said that he had a call with NATO allies to coordinate their support for Ukraine.

"The United States has worked in lockstep with our allies and partners around the world to make sure the Ukrainian people are in the strongest possible position to defend their nation, their families and against the brutal, truly brutal aggression of Russia."

Europe and the US are "fully united," he added, saying on his call with NATO leaders, they spoke about continuing "our close coordination and full support of Ukraine."

"The expectation on the part of Russia is we're going to break up. We're not going to stay united. But we are fully, thoroughly, totally united," he added.