January 26, 2023 - Russia-Ukraine news

By Tara Subramaniam, Jack Guy, Ed Upright, Aditi Sangal, Adrienne Vogt, Leinz Vales, Maureen Chowdhury and Matt Meyer, CNN

Updated 12:37 a.m. ET, January 27, 2023
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1:08 a.m. ET, January 26, 2023

Ukraine's "wish list" includes Western fighter jets, defense minister says

From CNN's Mick Krever

Oleksii Reznikov attends a meeting in Ramstein, Germany on January 20.
Oleksii Reznikov attends a meeting in Ramstein, Germany on January 20. (Michael Probst/AP)

Ukraine’s “wish list” for Western-supplied weapons includes fighter jets, Defense Minister Oleksii Reznikov told CNN on Wednesday.

“I sent a wish list card to Santa Claus last year, and fighter jets also [were] including in this wish list,” Reznikov said.

But he said Kyiv's first priority was air defense systems so it could prevent Russia from carrying out air and missile strikes.

“We have to close our sky, to defend our sky,” Reznikov said. “That’s priority number one. After that, we need to get more armed vehicles, tanks, artillery systems, UAVs (unmanned aerial vehicles), et cetera, et cetera. We have people, but we need weaponry.”

Quoting Winston Churchill, he said, “Give us the tools, we will finish the job.”
7:58 p.m. ET, January 25, 2023

Analysis: Why sending Ukraine tanks represents a fierce new step by the West

Analysis from CNN's Nick Paton Walsh

Even in disarray, the message ends up being one of unity.

After weeks of Poland and other NATO members openly pressuring Germany to permit the dispatch of Leopard 2 tanks to Ukraine, finally it appears the United States and some of its European Union allies will send armor — a move that was unthinkable months ago — to the front line against Russia.

It is a momentous decision, partly because these — unlike the air defense systems, or the anti-tank missiles — are not defensive weapons. Like the artillery and rocket systems that preceded them, they are intended to hit Russia’s troops hard in a ground offensive. But unlike those systems, they are unequivocally about Ukraine retaking territory. This is new, and fierce, and it portrays a NATO unafraid.

The combined US and European decision to send tanks to Ukraine is not the display of fractious democracies it might appear to be.

Throughout the weeks of dispute and badgering around Berlin’s reluctance to assist Kyiv, some in Moscow will have heard something different to disunity: a West contemplating sending its most aggressive armor to a state it considered unfit even to discuss NATO membership seriously with a year ago.

An alliance of the size, and varying histories, of NATO would always have some disagreements on how to handle the largest land war in Europe since World War II.

Poland has experienced the Soviet grasp, with many of its citizens able to remember how that version of Russian imperialism felt. Germany — under the Nazis — last let its tanks loose in the continent’s worst episode of bloodshed yet. Many senior figures in its towering Social Democratic Party (SPD) — home of German Chancellor Olaf Scholz — have been perilously close to the Kremlin. It would have been somewhat remarkable had these European powers all been on an identical page about this fight from day one.

But America’s plans to send a largely symbolic 30 Abrams tanks to Ukraine, according to two US officials familiar with the deliberations, have emboldened Germany enough to drop its objections to the Leopard. It provided a NATO umbrella for the move, even if it will take months, maybe years, to get the logistically complex American main battle tank into play.

Read the full analysis here.

8:02 p.m. ET, January 25, 2023

Ukrainian soldiers in Bakhmut say Russian forces attempting encirclement of the city

From CNN's Yulia Kesaieva and Maria Kostenko in Kyiv

Two Ukrainian soldiers fighting in the eastern city of Bakhmut said Wednesday they feared an attempted encirclement by Russian forces, though they did not expect a dramatic change in the coming days.

“The situation in the city is very alarming, but we keep fighting,” one soldier, whom CNN is not identifying for security reasons, said. 

The unnamed soldier, with whom CNN has been in constant contact for weeks, said “there are intense street battles for every house in the east, northeast and southeast,” but added that, while the Russian threat continued to grow, he did not believe Moscow's forces were likely to make any significant progress in the coming days.

“This is very worrying for us, and for everyone who is sane, especially those who saw what happened to the people surrounded in Soledar. And we were there. And no one wants it to happen again," the soldier said.

Ukraine’s deputy defense minister acknowledged that Russia is “intensifying their pressure” on Bakhmut.

“The enemy throws a significant number of personnel, weapons and military equipment into the battle, trying to break through our defense, suffers significant losses, but does not abandon its plans,” Hanna Maliar said on Telegram. “Now in Donbas, against their superiority in the number of soldiers and weapons, we have the advantage of professional military command and courage of soldiers.”