January 27, 2023 Russia-Ukraine news

By Tara Subramaniam, Amy Woodyatt, Hannah Strange, Aditi Sangal, Adrienne Vogt and Leinz Vales, CNN

Updated 12:12 p.m. ET, January 29, 2023
10 Posts
Sort byDropdown arrow
2:11 a.m. ET, January 27, 2023

Djokovic's father responds to criticism after posing with fan wearing pro-Russia "Z" symbol

From CNN’s Angus Watson in Sydney

The father of tennis star Novak Djokovic has responded to criticism after a video emerged on Wednesday of him at the Australian Open posing with fans holding Russia flags, voicing his support for Russia.

In a statement Friday that stopped short of an apology, Srdjan Djokovic said he was in Melbourne "to support my son only," and "had no intention of causing such headlines or disruption."  

"I was outside with Novak's fans as I have done after all of my son's matches to celebrate his wins and take pictures with them. I had no intention of being caught up in this," he said. 

"My family has lived through the horror of war, and we wish only for peace."

He added that he would watch his son's semifinal match against US star Tommy Paul from home on Friday "so there is no disruption ... for my son or for the other player."

Novak Djokovic will not be commenting on the situation, his management told CNN.

Earlier Friday, Ukraine’s ambassador to Australia had urged the tennis star to state his position on the war following his father's actions.

“I think for him to dispel the speculation it’s important to make a very strong statement about where he stands on this war,” Ukrainian Ambassador Vasyl Myroshnychenko told CNN.

What the video showed: In a video posted on YouTube by a known Vladimir Putin supporter, Srdjan Djokovic can be seen posing with a fan outside Melbourne’s Rod Laver Arena. The man is holding a Russia flag with Putin’s face on it and wearing a shirt with the “Z” symbol on his shirt, which is viewed as a sign of support for Russia, including its invasion of Ukraine.

Read the full story here.

1:14 a.m. ET, January 27, 2023

Analysis: Ukraine's new tanks won't be the instant game-changer some expect

Analysis from CNN's Brad Lendon

Britain's armored vehicles prepare to move at the Tapa Military Camp, in Estonia, on January 19.
Britain's armored vehicles prepare to move at the Tapa Military Camp, in Estonia, on January 19. (Pavel Golovkin/AP)

Those hoping that main battle tanks donated by NATO allies to Ukraine will have an immediate impact in its war with Russia may have to adjust their expectations.

After confirming it will receive deliveries of the American M-1 Abrams, German Leopards and British Challengers, Kyiv is now confronted with the logistical and operational realities of incorporating an assortment of vastly different and complex heavy armor into effective fighting units.

But first, the Ukrainians must factor in the time line for delivery.

Even the most optimistic estimates say it will take months for the tanks to enter the battlefield in numbers to make a big difference, while in the case of Abrams tanks it could be more than a year before Ukraine is able to deploy them.

Deputy Pentagon press secretary Sabrina Singh said Thursday that the United States would provide Ukraine with an advanced version of the Abrams, the M1A2.

The US does not “have these tanks available in excess in our US stocks,” she said, adding it will take “months to transfer” them to Ukraine.

Many analysts say it would make things easier for Ukraine to stick with one kind of tank, and that’s what makes Germany’s decision to allow Leopards into the fight so important.

Modern main battle tanks are complicated pieces of weaponry. Looking formidable and rugged on the outside, much of their effectiveness on the battlefield comes down to sophisticated electronic and computer systems at their core. Those systems find targets and train the tank’s main gun on them.

Maintaining the tanks, repairing them, and supplying the parts necessary requires detailed training all the way from the crews in the vehicles to the logistics trail supporting them, hundreds or maybe thousands of miles from the front lines in eastern Ukraine.

“The tank that they can operate and maintain most effectively will be the right option, which probably means one available in large numbers with less complex systems, which runs on the most accessible fuels and uses readily available ammunition — and that likely means the Leopard 2,” said Blake Herzinger, a nonresident fellow at the American Enterprise Institute.

Read the full analysis here.

12:33 a.m. ET, January 27, 2023

Japan imposes new sanctions on Russia over Ukraine invasion

From CNN’s Junko Ogura in Tokyo

Japan on Friday announced additional sanctions against Russia in response to Moscow's latest actions in Ukraine, banning the export of key strategic goods and freezing the assets of dozens of people.

The sanctions, which mostly take effect Friday, target Russian politicians, military personnel, businessmen, and companies.

They include 14 pro-Moscow figures linked to Russia's illegal attempts to annex four regions in the south and east of Ukraine.

From Feb. 3, Tokyo will also ban exports to to 49 designated entities in Russia of goods that could be used to strengthen Moscow's military forces.

Japan’s Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry said this includes semiconductor equipment and components, robots, generators, explosives, and vaccines.

10:34 p.m. ET, January 26, 2023

Ukrainian ambassador to Australia urges Novak Djokovic to state his position on the war

From CNN's Angus Watson in Sydney

Serbia’s Novak Djokovic in action during his quarterfinal match against Russia’s Andrey Rublev on Wednesday, January 25 in Melbourne.
Serbia’s Novak Djokovic in action during his quarterfinal match against Russia’s Andrey Rublev on Wednesday, January 25 in Melbourne. (Jaimi Joy/Reuters)

Ukraine's ambassador to Australia on Friday called on tennis star Novak Djokovic to state his position on Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, after the player’s father was pictured at a demonstration with fans holding Russia flags.

Footage from the Australian Open in Melbourne on Wednesday shows Srdjan Djokovic posing behind a Russian flag superimposed with President Vladimir Putin’s face.

Speaking to CNN Friday, Ukrainian Ambassador to Australia Vasyl Myroshnychenko said the incident amounted to a “provocation” and “shines a negative light on Novak himself as he prepares for his semi-final.”

“I think for him to dispel the speculation it's important to make a very strong statement about where he stands, and in this war, and I would like to see an apology from Novak Djokovic,” the ambassador said.

“Of course, the son cannot be responsible for the sins of his father, but maybe he has the same opinion as his father. I think the world should know where he stands.”

Tennis Australia told CNN that four people were ejected from the tournament on Wednesday for displaying pro-war imagery. 

CNN has reached out to both Srdjan Djokovic and Novak Djokovic for comment.

Read more:

7:47 p.m. ET, January 26, 2023

Zelensky calls for more Western weapons after latest Russian missile strikes

From CNN’s Vasco Cotovio and Yulia Kesaieva

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky asked the West for further weapons supplies after another wave of Russian missile strikes targeted Kyiv and other cities across the country.

“This evil, this Russian aggression can and should be stopped only with adequate weapons,” Zelensky told Ukrainians in his nightly address Thursday. “Weapons on the battlefield. Weapons that protect our skies.”

Ukraine said it was able to shoot down most of the 55 missiles fired by Russia, a feat Zelensky attributed to Western-donated air defense systems. 

“Today, thanks to the air defense systems provided to Ukraine and the professionalism of our warriors, we managed to shoot down most of the Russian missiles and Shaheds,” he said, referring to Iranian-made drones.

“These are at least hundreds of lives saved and dozens of infrastructure facilities preserved,” the Ukrainian president said.

Update on the eastern front: Zelensky then shifted focus to the eastern Donbas region, where fighting remains the fiercest. Ukrainian troops are suffering heavy attrition in the east.

“We need a new movement of our forces at the front. We need to ensure the defeat of the terrorists' ground forces. Whatever the Russian occupiers are planning, our preparation must be stronger,” Zelensky said. “I am grateful to all our units who demonstrate the resilience Ukraine needs, exhausting the occupier and destroying it.”

“The more Russia loses in this battle for Donbas, the less its overall potential will be,” he added.

Zelensky said his government is aware of Russian plans for future operations in Ukraine and assured his countrymen they were working to counter Moscow’s moves.

8:39 p.m. ET, January 26, 2023

Analysis: Tanks for Ukraine once seemed unthinkable. Could fighter jets be next?

Analysis from CNN's Mick Krever

A General Dynamics F-16C Fighting Falcon fighter jet flies at Nellis Air Force Base near Las Vegas on Feb. 16, 2022.
A General Dynamics F-16C Fighting Falcon fighter jet flies at Nellis Air Force Base near Las Vegas on Feb. 16, 2022. (Larry MacDougal/MCDOL/AP)

The decision by Germany, the United States, and others to send main battle tanks to Ukraine has gone further than many thought realistic just months ago.

Western nations, showcasing unity and wanting to head off a renewed Russian offensive, have cast aside fears that more advanced weaponry risked provoking Russian President Vladimir Putin.

With tanks checked off the list, Ukrainian leaders have renewed their public appeals for Western fighter jets.

“I sent a wish list card to Santa Claus last year, and fighter jets also [were] including in this wish list,” Defense Minister Oleksii Reznikov told CNN this week.

Publicly, Western leaders eschew discussion of fighter jets going to Ukraine, and they were not officially on the agenda of a meeting between Ukraine and its allies in Ramstein, Germany, last week.

But while last year the delivery of fighter jets was declared by the Pentagon press secretary to bring “little increased capabilities, at high risk,” now Jon Finer, the US Deputy National Security Adviser, says that they have “not ruled in or out any specific systems,” including the F-16.

The Netherlands, too, elicited some raised eyebrows last week, when its foreign minister told a parliamentarian asking about F-16s that “when it comes to things that the Netherlands can supply, there are no taboos.”

The F-16, first developed in the 1970s, is a highly maneuverable fighter jet, capable of carrying six air-to-air or air-to-surface missiles under its wings. It’s no longer purchased by the US, but new iterations are still being purchased by countries like Bahrain and Jordan.

The fighter jet’s current manufacturer, Lockheed Martin, has taken note. Its chief operating officer, Frank St. John, acknowledged to the Financial Times this week that there was “a lot of conversation about third party transfer of F-16s,” and that a new iteration of the F-16 just entering production could help satiate potential demand.

Read the full analysis here.

8:37 p.m. ET, January 26, 2023

Biden considering trip to Europe to mark one-year anniversary of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine

From CNN's Natasha Bertrand and Kevin Liptak

US President Joe Biden speaks about the continued support of Ukraine in its fight against Russia at the White House in Washington, DC, on Wednesday, January 25.
US President Joe Biden speaks about the continued support of Ukraine in its fight against Russia at the White House in Washington, DC, on Wednesday, January 25. (Andrew Caballero-Reynolds/AFP/Getty Images)

President Joe Biden is considering making a trip to Europe around the one-year anniversary of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine next month, two senior administration officials tell CNN.

A trip is not yet confirmed, and details have yet to be finalized. But one of the officials said that one stop under consideration is Poland, a key NATO ally currently housing thousands of American troops that also serves as a hub for Western weapons transfers to Ukraine. US service members are also training Ukrainian troops there.

It is highly unlikely that Biden would travel to Ukraine as part of this trip, however, one of the officials said, given the ongoing security concerns.

Biden’s aides have been planning for several weeks how they will mark the anniversary of the invasion, including potentially a major address. They hope to emphasize the resilience of the Ukrainian people, noting that when the war began, many assumed Kyiv would fall within days.

NBC News first reported a trip to Europe was under consideration.

Read more here.

7:30 p.m. ET, January 26, 2023

US introduces new sanctions targeting Russia’s Wagner mercenary group

From CNN's Jennifer Hansler

The US Treasury Department on Thursday designated the Wagner Group, a Russian private mercenary organization heavily involved in the war in Ukraine, as a significant transnational criminal organization, and imposed a slew of sanctions on a transnational network that supports it.

The US Department of State concurrently announced a number of sanctions meant to “target a range of Wagner’s key infrastructure – including an aviation firm used by Wagner, a Wagner propaganda organization, and Wagner front companies,” according to US Secretary of State Antony Blinken.

Here are the actions taken by both US departments:

The State Department announced sanctions on the following:

  • Three individuals for their roles as heads of the Russian Federal Penitentiary Service, which has been reported to facilitate the recruitment of Russian prisoners into the Wagner Group.
  • A deputy prime minister who also serves as the Minister of Industry and Trade
  • The chairman of the Election Commission of the Rostov Region.
  • A network tied to an already-sanctioned Russian oligarch.
  • A financier to Russian President Vladimir Putin.

The department also announced it will take steps to impose visa restrictions “on 531 members of the Russian Federation military" associated with the assault on Ukraine.

The Treasury Department announced sanctions on the following:

  • A number of individuals and companies tied to Moscow’s defense industrial complex.
  • Putin allies and their family members.
  • Two people involved with Russia’s attempts to annex parts of Ukraine.

The White House had previewed the significant transnational criminal organization designation and forthcoming sanctions against the Wagner group last week.

7:39 p.m. ET, January 26, 2023

Russian missile strikes kill 11 people across Ukraine, authorities say

From CNN's Maria Kostenko and Vasco Cotovio

At least 11 people were killed and another 11 were injured across Ukraine as a result of Russian missile strikes Thursday, the country’s State Emergency Services reported.

In a statement, spokesperson Oleksandr Khorunzhyi provided the following additional details:

  • 35 buildings were damaged
  • Two fires broke out
  • 100 rescuers are involved in the recovery process

The missiles caused damage in 11 regions throughout Ukraine, Khorunzhyi added.

“Most of the damages to the housing are in Kyiv region,” he added. “We have connected 88 power generators in order to supply electricity to social facilities such as hospitals, etc.”

Here's what Ukrainian officials have said about the impact of the Russian attacks:

  • Kyiv city: Around 20 Russian missiles were shot down in the skies over Ukraine’s capital, said Serhiy Popko, head of the city’s military administration. A 55-year-old man was killed by falling missile fragments, and two others wounded.
  • Kyiv region: The regional administration for the wider Kyiv region reported a “hit at an energy facility” but gave no further details.
  • Odesa region: Ukrainian air defenses destroyed three missiles over the region, governor Maksym Marchenko said on Telegram. The DTEK energy company said energy infrastructure had been damaged and warned the subsequent emergency power outages “may last for several days”.
  • Vinnytsia region: Earlier, regional governor Serhiy Borzov reported “hits by enemy missiles.” The region’s police chief Ivan Ishchenko said there were no known casualties.