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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2:00 a.m. ET, January 26, 2023

Emergency power outages imposed in several parts of Ukraine due to threat of Russian missile attacks

From CNN's Maria Kostenko

Ukraine's largest private energy company on Thursday implemented emergency power outages in several regions including Kyiv "due to the threat of a missile attack," the firm said.

In a Telegram post, the DTEK group said the outages in the capital, Odesa and Dnipropetrovsk were "a necessary preventive step to avoid significant damage to the energy infrastructure if enemy missiles reach their target."

Air raid sirens have been ringing across all parts of Ukraine, including Kyiv, on Thursday morning. 

2:00 a.m. ET, January 26, 2023

Air raid sirens across central and eastern Ukraine signal a possible Russian attack, officials warn

From CNN's Yulia Kesaieva in Kyiv

Air sirens rang across much of central and eastern Ukraine Wednesday night as officials warned residents to shelter from a possible Russian attack.

“Threat of a missile strike,” Mykola Lukashuk, head of the Dnipropetrovsk Region Council, said on Telegram. “Stay in safe places until the end of the alert. The threat is not over.”

Lukashuk urged others on Telegram not to report the locations of possible interceptions by Ukrainian air defense.

“Do not help the enemy,” he said. “Wait for official information.”

In the southern Mykolaiv region, there were also official reports of possible incoming Russian fire.

“They write that three groups of mopeds [Shahed attack drones] have already taken off,” Vitaliy Kim, head of the Mykolaiv regional military administration, said on Telegram. “The petty crooks couldn't come up with anything better on the best president's birthday.”

In the northeastern Kharkiv region, the military administrator warned residents to remain in their shelters: “There is a threat of missile attacks. Do not ignore the alarms.”

In the central Kirovohrad region, the military administrator said on Telegram: “The level of missile threat remains high.”

1:46 a.m. ET, January 26, 2023

Russian warship armed with hypersonic missiles to train with Chinese, South African navies

From CNN's Radina Gigova and Simone McCarthy

A Russian warship armed with advanced hypersonic missiles completed a drill in the Atlantic Ocean, ahead of joint naval exercises with the Chinese and South African navies scheduled for next month, the Russian Defense Ministry said Wednesday.

Russia’s Admiral Gorshkov frigate, armed with Zircon hypersonic missiles, practiced “delivering a missile strike against an enemy surface target,” the ship’s commander Igor Krokhmal said in a video released by the ministry.

The exercise, described by state news agency Tass as an “electronic launch” or virtual simulation, confirmed the “designed characteristics” of the missile system, said Krokhmal, who pointed to the missiles’ purported ability to reach distances of more than 900 kilometers (559 miles).

The test was part of a long voyage of the Admiral Gorshkov frigate launched earlier this month, when Russian state media said the warship was dispatched with the hypersonic missiles. The deployment will also include joint training with the Chinese and South African navies off the coast of South Africa, according to Moscow and Pretoria.

The exercises come as Russia nears the first anniversary of its full-scale invasion of Ukraine and marks both a show of force and — with the joint exercises — an opportunity for Moscow to show it is not isolated on the world stage, despite wide international condemnation of its unprovoked war.

The White House on Monday said the US “has concerns about any country … exercising with Russia while Russia wages a brutal war against Ukraine.”

During a joint meeting in Pretoria Monday, Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov and his South African counterpart Naledi Pandor defended the naval drills, with Lavrov saying Moscow does not want any so-called “scandals” regarding the exercises.

Read more here.

1:23 a.m. ET, January 26, 2023

Germany will fund 10,000 Starlink satellite terminals for Ukraine

From CNN's Teele Rebane

Mykhailo Fedorov during an interview in Kyiv on December 14, 2022.
Mykhailo Fedorov during an interview in Kyiv on December 14, 2022. (Andrew Kravchenko/Bloomberg/Getty Images)

Germany will fund the purchase of 20 million euros ($21.8 million) worth of Starlink satellite terminals for Ukraine, Kyiv's minister of digital transformation said Wednesday.

“Expressed my gratitude to the German people for a new batch of 10,000 Starlinks, which we’ll get next month,” Mykhailo Fedorov said in a Telegram post .

The small, easy-to-use satellite dishes made by Elon Musk’s private rocket company SpaceX have been universally hailed as a game-changing source of communication for Ukraine’s military, allowing it to fight and stay online even as cellular phone and internet networks have been destroyed in its war with Russia. 

Germany's Foreign Ministry said a third of the terminals will benefit the Ukrainian armed forces directly, noting the expanded internet access will also help the Ukrainian people.

“Real-time communication allows Ukrainian soldiers to coordinate their defense of their homeland and better protect themselves against Russian attacks,” the ministry said in a statement.
“Internet access is a lifeline for local people and allows the rest of the world to know what is happening in Ukraine."
8:44 p.m. ET, January 25, 2023

Germany and the US will send tanks to Ukraine. Here's why that matters

From CNN staff

US President Joe Biden said Wednesday he plans to send 31 M1 Abrams tanks to Ukraine, reversing his longstanding resistance to Kyiv's requests for the highly sophisticated but maintenance-heavy vehicles.

His announcement came after Germany said it would send 14 Leopard 2 tanks to Kyiv from its own stock, ending an apparent standoff that saw Berlin officials indicate they would only send tanks if the US did too.

Here's what you need to know:

  • Why it's significant: NATO's secretary general said the tanks "will significantly strengthen" Kyiv's combat capabilities. Ukraine's President Volodymyr Zelensky has consistently asked Western allies for modern tanks as Kyiv prepares for an expected major Russian counteroffensive in the spring.
  • It's not just the US and Germany: Other countries, especially those with German-made tanks, have also announced contributions. CNN cannot confirm the total number of Leopard 2 tanks to be delivered, but pledges made by multiple nations mean Ukraine is in line to receive dozens of them. Germany’s main governing party said Wednesday that Western allies will send around 80 Leopard 2 tanks in total.
  • Why send tanks now: The donations will provide Kyiv’s forces with a modern and powerful military vehicle and come as a blow to the Kremlin, which has seen a growing campaign to equip Ukrainian troops with high-tech fighting systems as Russia’s war nears the one-year mark.
  • But don't expect an instant impact: Speaking before Biden's announcement, senior US officials framed the decision as an investment in Ukraine’s “longer term capabilities,” an indication the US sees the war extending well into the future. Ukraine hopes the new tanks can help it retake territory seized by Russia, including in the Donbas. That could also include Crimea, the peninsula annexed by Russia in 2014.
  • Possible challenges: The Abrams tanks will take months to arrive, senior US officials said, and will require extensive training for Ukrainian troops on how to operate and service them. The US must also navigate complicated supply chains for the components required for the tanks. The procurement process will take months, the US officials said, though Germany's Leopards will arrive in the nearer term. Portugal's foreign minister said it will take two to three months before Leopard 2 tanks are fully operational in Ukraine.
  • What happens now: In the meantime, the US will begin a "comprehensive training program" for the Ukrainians on the Abrams, which will occur outside Ukraine.

Watch CNN's Jim Sciutto break down the latest on the tanks:

CNN's Kevin Liptak, Stephanie Halasz, Sophie Tanno and Sugam Pokharel contributed reporting to this post.

9:08 p.m. ET, January 25, 2023

"In danger" Odesa added to UNESCO World Heritage List

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

The historic center of the Ukrainian port city of Odesa and sites in Yemen and Lebanon were added to the World Heritage List Wednesday by the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO).

All three sites were simultaneously added to UNESCO's List of World Heritage in Danger.

UNESCO's founding Convention obliges all members — among whom are Russia and Ukraine — 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 the listing 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 the decision would give Ukraine access to "technical and financial international assistance" to protect and rehabilitate the city center.

Read more here.

12:54 a.m. ET, January 26, 2023

Zelensky says tank announcements from Western allies for Ukraine proves "freedom is only getting stronger" 

From CNN's Mick Krever in London

Volodymyr Zelensky speaks during a joint press conference in Kyiv on January 24.
Volodymyr Zelensky speaks during a joint press conference in Kyiv on January 24. (Sergei Supinsky/AFP/Getty Images)

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky said Wednesday the decisions by the United States and Germany to send main battle tanks to his country proved “freedom is only getting stronger.”

“The key thing now is speed and volume,” he said. “The speed of training of our military, the speed of supplying tanks to Ukraine. The volume of tank support.”

He thanked "Mr. President Biden, I thank the Congress, I thank every American family" as well as "Mr. Chancellor, all German politicians and public figures."

Providing more sophisticated weapons to Ukraine was critical to the war effort, he added.

“Today I spoke with NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg,” he said. “We have to unlock the supply of long-range missiles to Ukraine, it is important for us to expand our cooperation in artillery, we have to achieve the supply of aircraft to Ukraine. And this is a dream. And this is a task. An important task for all of us.”
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.