Latest news on Russia and the war in Ukraine

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Dutch, German ministers condemn child abductions in Ukraine

The German and Dutch foreign ministers on Monday condemned the deportation by Russians of thousands of Ukrainian children, calling it a deliberate policy of cruel and inhumane abductions that is tearing families apart.

Since Moscow launched its war in Ukraine nearly a year ago, Russians have been accused of deporting Ukrainian children to Russia or Russian-held territories to raise them as their own. At least 1,000 children were seized from schools and orphanages in the Kherson region during Russia’s eight-month occupation of the area, local authorities say. Their whereabouts are still unknown.

Russia claims that these children don’t have parents or guardians to look after them, or that they can’t be reached. But the AP found that officials have deported Ukrainian children to Russia or Russian-held territories without consent, lied to them that they weren’t wanted by their parents, used them for propaganda, and given them Russian families and citizenship.

“Russia must account for the whereabouts of these children,” German Foreign Minister Annalena Baerbock said at a joint press conference with her Dutch colleague Wopke Hoekstra in The Hague.

“This deliberate Russian policy is tearing families apart and traumatizing children,” Hoekstra said. “It is cruel and it is inhumane. And let me be clear that children abducted by Russia must be returned to their own country as soon as possible.”

— The Associated Press

Ukraine prepares for attacks near border with Russian-ally Belarus

Belarus’ President Alexander Lukashenko (C) attends a joint exercise of the armed forces of Russia and Belarus at a firing range near Osipovichi outside Minsk, on Feb. 17, 2022.

Maxim Guchek | Afp | Getty Images

Ukraine is growing increasingly prepared for an attack near its border with Belarus, according to NBC News.

Belarus and Russia began joint military exercises on Monday. That’s elevated concerns that Russia will launch a new ground offensive near the Belarus-Ukraine border as it did in February, NBC News reported.

NBC News spoke to one Ukrainian solider who described the need to be on high alert as an attack could come anywhere within in a span of thousands of miles along the border.

Read more here.

Death toll in Dnipro missile strike rises to 40

Rescuers remove the rubble and search for people at an apartment block hit by a rocket launched by Russian occupiers during a massive missile attack on Ukraine Saturday, January 14, Dnipro, central Ukraine.

Mykola Miakshykov | Future Publishing | Getty Images

The death toll from a weekend Russian missile strike on an apartment building in the southeastern Ukrainian city of Dnipro has risen to 40, authorities said Monday, as Western analysts pointed to indications the Kremlin was preparing for a drawn-out war in Ukraine after almost 11 months of fighting.

About 1,700 people lived in the multi-story building, and search and rescue crews have worked nonstop since Saturday’s strike to locate victims and survivors in the wreckage. The regional administration said 39 people have been rescued so far and 30 more remained missing. Authorities said at least 75 were wounded.

Rescuers work on a residential building destroyed after a missile strike, in Dnipro on January 16, 2023, amid the Russian invasion of Ukraine.

Vitalii Matokha | AFP | Getty Images

The reported death toll made it the deadliest single attack on Ukrainian civilians since before the summer, according to The Associated Press-Frontline War Crimes Watch project. Residents said the apartment tower did not house any military facilities.

This photograph taken on January 14, 2023 shows a destroyed car and a residential building that were destroyed by a missile strike in Dnipro. 

Vitalii Matokha | AFP | Getty Images

The European Union’s foreign policy chief, Josep Borrell, called the strike, and others like it, “inhumane aggression” because it directly targeted civilians. “There will be no impunity for these crimes,” he said in a tweet Sunday.

Asked about the strike Monday, Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov said the Russian military doesn’t target residential buildings and suggested the Dnipro building was hit as a result of Ukrainian air defense actions.

— Associated Press

Latvia’s president says Western world must help Ukraine resist Russia

Latvia’s President Egils Levits said it’s important to maintain support for Ukraine as the war with Russia continues for two main reasons.

“The first reason is that the international community should keep the standard of international law, which is provided for in the Charter of the United Nations from 1945, and we cannot afford to lower this standard,” he told CNBC’s Joumanna Bercetche in Davos, Switzerland.

“Therefore all states that have committed to peaceful order in the world should commit to helping Ukraine resist this unlawful attack,” he added.

Latvia — which itself declared independence from the Soviet Union in 1990, shortly before its collapse — has been, and remains, a staunch ally of Ukraine. Levits said Russia’s invasion was the “gravest violation of the sovereignty of a democratic state” and that solidarity between democracies was vital.

“I think all states which are lawful and which want to keep the standard of international law, there is only one decision and that is to support Ukraine.”

— Holly Ellyatt

Finland says giving Leopard tanks to Ukraine depends on Germany

A Leopard 2 A4 main battle tank.

Picture Alliance | Picture Alliance | Getty Images

Finland’s stance on giving Leopard tanks to Ukraine depends on Germany’s lead, Finnish defence minister Mikko Savola said on Monday, adding that exporting the German-made equipment would require a permit from Germany.

“It depends very much on Germany’s lead how we act with these Leopard tanks. These require a German export permit and in addition to that, the German defence industry has a very strong role in this, in how substitutive equipment can be obtained,” Savola told Reuters.

Last Thursday, President Sauli Niinisto said Finland could donate a small number of Leopard 2 tanks to Ukraine if a wider group of European nations also decided to do so.

Savola said the topic would be discussed later this week, possibly first at a meeting in Tallinn in which Estonia has invited “like-minded countries”, and at the U.S. military base in Ramstein, Germany, where U.S. Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin is expected to meet German and EU leaders on Friday.

Berlin is under pressure to quickly nominate a new defence minister ahead of Austin’s visit to replace Christine Lambrecht, who resigned from Chancellor Olaf Scholz’s government on Monday.

— Reuters

Russian gas will eventually return to Europe, Qatari energy minister says

View of pipe systems and shut-off devices at the gas receiving station of the Nord Stream 2 Baltic Sea pipeline.

Stefan Sauer | picture alliance | Getty Images

The EU’s rejection of Russian energy commodities following Moscow’s invasion of Ukraine won’t last forever, Qatar’s energy minister said at the weekend.

“The Europeans today are saying there’s no way we’re going back” to buying Russian gas, Saad Sherida al-Kaabi, energy minister and head of state gas company QatarEnergy, said at the Atlantic Council Energy Forum in Abu Dhabi.

“We’re all blessed to have to be able to forget and to forgive. And I think things get mended with time… they learn from that situation and probably have a much bigger diversity [of energy intake].”

Europe has long been Russia’s largest customer of most energy commodities, especially natural gas. EU countries have dramatically cut down their imports of Russian energy supplies, imposing sanctions in response to Moscow’s brutal, full-scale invasion of Ukraine.

Read more on the story here

Polish PM to Germany: send Ukraine all weapons, including tanks

A new Leopard 2 A7V heavy battle tank, one of the tanks that Ukraine has requested from Germany.

Sean Gallup | Getty Images News | Getty Images

Polish Prime Minister Mateusz Morawiecki said Germany should send Ukraine all the weapons it needs to defend itself against Russia’s invasion, including tanks.

Delivering the keynote speech at a ceremony marking former conservative Finance Minister Wolfgang Schaueble’s half-century in parliament, he implicitly criticised Social Democrat Chancellor Olaf Scholz’s reluctance to send heavier weaponry.

“I call for decisive actions by the German government,” he said, to applause from gathered, mostly conservative, German legislators. “For all sorts of weapons to be delivered. The battle for freedom and our future is raging as we speak… Tanks must not be left in storehouses, but placed in their hands.”

— Reuters

Dnipro missile strike death toll rises further

The death toll following a Russian missile strike on a nine-story apartment building in the city of Dnipro has risen.

Citing information from the head of the Ukraine’s National Police Ihor Klymenko, the National Police posted on Telegram that as of 10:30 a.m. local time, 36 people had been killed, including two children.

Seventy-five people are known to have been injured in the attack, including 15 children, while 39 were rescued, including six children, the post states. Search and rescue works are continuing, the police added.

Following that update, a post on Telegram by Ukraine’s emergency services said that 40 people had perished in the attack, including three children.

Residential building destroyed after a Russian missile attack on January 14, 2023 in Dnipro, Ukraine.

Global Images Ukraine | Getty Images News | Getty Images

The attack took place on Saturday and destroyed 72 apartments and damaged 230 others, news agency Ukrinform reported.

The Kremlin said Monday that its armed forces “do not strike at residential buildings or at social infrastructure facilities. The strikes are carried out on military targets camouflaged or obvious,” Kremlin Press Secretary Dmitry Peskov said, according to Russian news agency Tass.

— Holly Ellyatt

Kremlin says British tanks ‘will burn’ in Ukraine

The Kremlin has said heavy armored vehicles supplied to Ukraine “will burn,” days after Britain said it would supply Challenger 2 tanks to the country.

Kremlin Press Secretary Dmitry Peskov was asked by reporters to comment on recent moves by Ukraine’s Western allies to supply Kyiv with heavier armored vehicles.

He replied “nothing could change” the intention of Western countries to supply such equipment but that it would not make a difference to the war, or “special military operation,” according to comments reported by state news agency Tass and translated by Google.

“The special military operation will continue. These tanks are on fire and will burn just like the rest. The goals of the special military operation will be achieved,” he added.

A Challenger 2 main battle tank on display for The Royal Tank Regiment Regimental Parade, on Sept. 24, 2022, in Bulford, England.

Finnbarr Webster | Getty Images News | Getty Images

On Saturday, British Prime Minister Rishi Sunak announced that the U.K. would provide 14 Challenger 2 tanks to Ukraine, making it the first Western country to supply the heavy tanks Kyiv has been repeatedly asking for.

Russia criticized the move, saying it would only escalate the war. The Russian Embassy in London tweeted that “Challenger 2 tanks will hardly help the Ukrainian military turn the tide in the field. Yet they will become legitimate large-scale targets for Russian forces.”

— Holly Ellyatt

Russian-installed official in Crimea says air defenses shot down seven drones

Russian warships are seen ahead of the Navy Day parade in the Black Sea port of Sevastopol, Crimea July 23, 2021.

Alexey Pavlishak | Reuters

The Russian-installed governor of Sevastopol in Crimea said on Monday that air defenses had downed seven drones over the city in what he called a “failed Ukrainian attack.”

Sevastopol, which is on the Crimean peninsula that Russia annexed in 2014, has come under repeated air attack since Russia invaded Ukraine in Febuary. Russian officials have blamed the attacks on Ukraine.

Governor Mikhail Razvozhayev said all the drones were downed over the sea, with no damage to any infrastructure. He denied reports in Ukrainian media that there were explosions in the city, and said air defenses were continuing to monitor the skies, in a post on his Telegram channel.

— Reuters

German Defense Minister Lambrecht announces resignation

German Defense Minister Christine Lambrecht (R) attends a meeting with members of a Ukraine Security Consultative Group at the U.S. Air Base in Ramstein, western Germany, on April 26, 2022.

Andre Pain | AFP | Getty Images

German Defense Minister Christine Lambrecht has asked Chancellor Olaf Scholz for her dismissal, she said in a statement on Monday, the culmination of growing skepticism about her ability to bring the German army into shape against the backdrop of the Ukraine war.

“Today I asked the chancellor to dismiss me from the office of federal minister of defence,” Lambrecht, a member of Scholz’s Social Democratic Party (SPD), said in the statement.

Her decision to step down comes as Germany is under pressure to approve an increase in international military support for Kyiv, and Germany’s defense capabilities have been called into question after several Puma infantry tanks were put out of service during a recent military drill.

— Reuters

Children’s hospital in Kherson city damaged in attack, official says

Multiple windows of a children’s hospital in Kherson city in southern Ukraine have been blown out during a Russian attack, according to Kyrylo Tymoshenko, the deputy head of the Office of the President of Ukraine.

Posting on Telegram, Tymoshenko said the damage had occured when it came under “enemy fire” but gave no further details.

“This time, they attacked a children’s hospital. As a result, about 30 windows in the neonatal (6-story) building were broken,” he said, according to a Google translation of his comments.

There is no information about any casualties, he added. CNBC was unable to immediately verify his report.

— Holly Ellyatt

Ukraine likely continues to maintain positions in Soledar, UK says

Britain’s Ministry of Defense said Monday that Ukraine likely maintained positions in Soledar, a town Russia claims to have fully captured.

The ministry said intense fighting continued in both the Kremina and Bakhmut areas of the Donbas front over the weekend.

“As of 15 January 2023, Ukrainian Armed Forces (UAF) almost certainly maintained positions in Soledar, north of Bakhmut, in the face of continued Wagner Group [private military company] assaults,” the ministry said in an intelligence update on Twitter.

Members of Ukraine’s 95th Air Assault Brigade defend an area near the front line of fighting on Jan. 12, 2023, outside Kremina, Ukraine.

Spencer Platt | Getty Images News | Getty Images

Around Kremina, a town in Luhansk around 40 miles north of Bakhmut, fighting has been characterized by a complex series of local attacks and counter-attacks in wooded country, the U.K. said, noting that overall, “the UAF continue to gradually advance their front line east on the edge of Kremina town.”

“Over the last six weeks, both Russia and Ukraine have achieved hard-fought but limited gains in different sectors,” the ministry noted.

“In these circumstances, a key operational challenge for both sides is to generate formations of uncommitted, capable troops which can exploit the tactical successes to create operational breakthroughs.”

— Holly Ellyatt

Ukraine reels from Dnipro attack in which 35 people are known to have died

A residential building destroyed after a Russian missile attack on Jan. 15, 2023, in Dnipro, Ukraine.

Global Images Ukraine | Getty Images News | Getty Images

Ukraine is reeling from a major Russian missile attack on the city of Dnipro in central Ukraine on Saturday after an apartment block was hit.

Dnipro’s regional governor Valentyn Reznichenko said in an update on Telegram Monday morning that 35 people had been killed in the attack, including two children. He added that 39 people had been rescued and 75 were known to have been injured in the attack, among them 14 children.

Ukraine’s emergency services said Sunday that there were 45 reports of missing persons and that “while 11 people have been identified, the fate of 34 people is being clarified.”

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy said Sunday evening that a rescue operation continued as debris was cleared at the site of the strike, an attack that the president characterized as a terrorist act by Russia.

“As of now, the fate of more than 30 people who could have been in the house at the time of the terrorists’ missile hit remains unknown,” he said in his daily address.

“Dozens of people were rescued from the rubble, including six children. We are fighting for every person! The rescue operation will last as long as there is even the slightest chance to save lives.”

Fireman and rescuers carry a girl rescued from under the rubble on Jan. 15, 2023 in Dnipro, Ukraine.

Global Images Ukraine | Getty Images News | Getty Images

Zelenskyy called on Russians to condemn the attack, stating, “I want to say to all those in Russia – and from Russia – who even now could not utter even a few words of condemnation of this terror… Your cowardly silence, your attempt to “wait out” what is happening will only end with those same terrorists coming after you one day.”

Ukraine’s Air Force said the apartment block was struck by a Russian Kh-22 missile, an anti-ship missile which is known to be inaccurate. Russia has said previously it does not deliberately target civilians but there have been multiple instances of civilian infrastructure, including schools, residential buildings and hospitals, being hit in missile strikes.

— Holly Ellyatt

Everything is going according to plan in Ukraine, Putin says

Russian President Vladimir Putin chairs a meeting with government members via a video link from a residence outside Moscow, Russia, on Jan. 11, 2023.

Mikhail Klimentyev | Sputnik | Reuters

Russian President Vladimir Putin said the dynamics of the war in Ukraine, which Moscow calls a “special military operation,” are positive.

“The dynamics are positive. Everything is developing within the plan of the Defense Ministry and the General Staff. And I hope that our fighters will please us more than once again with the results of their combat work,” Putin said in an interview with the Rossiya-1 TV channel, as reported by state news agency Tass.

Russia’s Defense Ministry said on Friday said Russian forces had captured Soledar in the eastern Donetsk region the previous day, after several days of conflicting reports over whether the town had fallen under Russian control.

This grab taken from AFP video footage shows smoke rising, as seen from the outskirts of Soledar, eastern Ukraine on Jan. 11, 2023.

Arman Soldin | Afp | Getty Images

A spokesperson for the ministry said controlling Soledar made it possible to cut off the supply routes of Ukrainian forces in Bakhmut and to then surround the town, a key target for Russia for months as it looks to extend its control over the Donetsk region, neighboring Luhansk and the entire Donbas in eastern Ukraine.

Ukraine has not conceded defeat in Soledar, with President Volodymyr Zelenskyy saying Sunday evening that “the battle for Soledar, for Bakhmut, for the whole Donetsk region, for the Luhansk region continues without any respite, without any stop.”

— Holly Ellyatt

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