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Ukraine war live updates: Missile attack on village market kills two women; UK reportedly

Russian and Ukrainian human rights commissioners to meet in Turkey this week

The Russian and Ukrainian human rights commissioners will meet in Turkey this week, news agencies from both countries reported, for talks likely to include the possibility of further exchanges of prisoners of war.

Interfax quoted the Russian commissioner, Tatiana Moskalkova, as saying the meeting with her Ukrainian counterpart Dmytro Lubinets would take place during an international forum in Turkey between Thursday and Saturday.

She said there had already been discussion of the “approximate agenda of our negotiations”, but gave no details.

Ukraine’s Ukrinform news agency quoted Lubinets as saying the main issue was “the return of our heroes and heroines”, a reference to prisoner exchanges.

Russia and Ukraine have conducted numerous prisoner swaps – most recently on Sunday.

— Reuters

UK military says it will continue to train Ukrainian troops on weapons platforms

The British military said its support for Ukraine remains steadfast and will continue in the new year.

“We have provided over 200 armored vehicles to date, including Stormer armed with Starstreak missiles, Husky, Wolfhound, Spartan, Mastiff and M113,” the U.K.’s Ministry of Defense wrote in a tweet.

For months, Ukrainian troops have trained alongside British forces in the U.K. on a variety of weapons platforms.

— Amanda Macias

Ukrainian soldiers load a M777 cannon in Kherson

Ukrainian soldiers load a M777 cannon as a Ukrainian artillery unit responds to Russian artillery shelling in a field in Kherson, Ukraine. Kherson was the only regional capital captured by Russia since the invasion. It was liberated by Ukraine in November. 

An Ukrainian artillery unit responds to Russian artillery shelling by firing a M777 cannon in a field on January 9, 2023 in Kherson, Ukraine.

Pierre Crom | Getty Images

Ukrainian soldiers adjust the position of a M777 cannon as an Ukrainian artillery unit responds to Russian artillery shelling by firing a M777 cannon in a field on January 9, 2023 in Kherson, Ukraine.

Pierre Crom | Getty Images

Ukrainian soldiers load a M777 cannon as an Ukrainian artillery unit responds to Russian artillery shelling by firing a M777 cannon in a field on January 9, 2023 in Kherson, Ukraine. 

Pierre Crom | Getty Images

A Ukrainian artillery unit responds to Russian artillery shelling by firing a M777 cannon in a field on January 9, 2023 in Kherson, Ukraine.

Pierre Crom | Getty Images

Ukrainian soldiers load a M777 cannon as an Ukrainian artillery unit responds to Russian artillery shelling by firing a M777 cannon in a field on January 9, 2023 in Kherson, Ukraine. 

Pierre Crom | Getty Images

— Pierre Crom | Getty Images

US says Iran may be ‘contributing’ to war crimes in Ukraine

This photograph taken on September 25, 2022, shows empty graves after exhumation of bodies in the mass grave created during the Russian’s occupation in Izyum, Kharkiv region, amid the Russian invasion of Ukraine.

Yasuyoshi Chiba | Afp | Getty Images

The Biden administration said Monday that Iran’s sale of lethal drones to Russia for use in its ongoing invasion of Ukraine means the country may be “contributing to widespread war crimes.”

National Security Adviser Jake Sullivan leveled the charge against Iran on Monday as he spoke to reporters accompanying U.S. President Joe Biden on a trip to Mexico. While it did not signal a policy shift, the charge marked some of the sharpest U.S. rhetoric against Iran since it began providing weapons to Russia to support its nearly year-long war in Ukraine.

Sullivan said Iran had chosen “to go down a road where their weapons are being used to kill civilians in Ukraine and to try to plunge cities into cold and darkness, which from our point of view, puts Iran in a place where it could potentially be contributing to widespread war crimes.”

Sullivan pointed to European and U.S. sanctions on Iran put in place after the U.S. exposed Iran’s weapons sales to Russia last year as examples of how they are trying to “make these transactions more difficult.” But he acknowledged that “the way that they are actually carrying them out physically makes physical interdiction a challenge.”

— Associated Press

Russia and Ukraine carry out 36th prisoner exchange since start of the war

Ukrainian soldiers and civilians are seen as Andriy Yermak, Head of the Presidential Office of Ukraine, states on his social media account that 50 Ukrainian soldiers were released as a result of the prisoner exchange with Russia in Kyiv, Ukraine on December 01, 2022. 

Ukrainian Presidential Office | Anadolu Agency | Getty Images

Russia and Ukraine carried out another prisoner exchange over the weekend, according to Ukrainian authorities.

The release of 50 Ukrainian soldiers marks the 36th time that the two militaries have exchanged prisoners since the start of Russia’s full-scale invasion of Ukraine.

The Coordinating Headquarters for the Treatment of Prisoners of War estimates that more than 1,600 people have returned to Ukraine.

— Amanda Macias

Ukraine says its looking for 2 British volunteers that went missing in the Donetsk region

Ukrainian soldiers of a special forces unit look at live images of Russian positions sent from a drone amid artillery fights on Dec. 20, 2022 in Bakhmut, Ukraine.

Pierre Crom | Getty Images News | Getty Images

Ukrainian authorities are looking for two British volunteers who went missing in Soledar, a city located in the Donetsk region.

“On the morning of January 7, Andrew Bagshaw and Christopher Perry left Kramatorsk. At 17:15, the police received a report about their disappearance,” Ukraine’s national police said in a statement, according to an NBC News translation.

“The police are carrying out investigative actions to establish the location of the missing persons,” the statement added.

— Amanda Macias

Zelenskyy speaks with newly elected president of Slovenia about continuing to support Ukraine

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy said he spoke over the phone with Slovenia’s newly elected president Natasa Musar.

During the call, Zelenskyy said he invited Musar to visit him in Kyiv.

He also requested that her country continue to support Ukraine in its fight against Russia and support the integration of his country into the European Union.

— Amanda Macias

UK considering supplying Challenger 2 tanks to Ukraine, Sky News reports

A Challenger 2 main battle tank is displayed for the families watching The Royal Tank Regiment Regimental Parade, on September 24, 2022 in Bulford, England.

Finnbarr Webster | Getty Images News | Getty Images

Britain is considering supplying its tanks to Ukraine for the first time since the war began, Sky News understands.

The U.K. news network, citing a Western source with knowledge of the conversations, said discussions had been taking place “for a few weeks” about the delivery of the British Army’s Challenger 2 main battle tank.

“It would encourage others to give tanks,” a Ukrainian source told the news outlet.

Despite supplying Ukraine with lighter combat vehicles and weaponry, Kyiv’s Western allies have been reluctant to offer heavier tanks in case Russia sees the move as escalatory.

Ukraine has repeatedly asked Germany for Leopard 2 tanks, for example, but Berlin has been cautious about supplying them. On Sunday, however, Germany Economy Minister Robert Habeck said such a supply could not be ruled out.

Ukraine’s allies are meeting next week to discuss the conflict and possible new assistance for the country. Sky News reported that no final decision on whether to supply Challenger 2 tanks has yet been made by the British government and the British Ministry of Defense would neither confirm nor deny the suggestion.

— Holly Ellyatt

Russian actor faces criminal charges over ‘anti-Russian’ interview

Actor Artur Smolyaninov, center, at a rally in support of Gogol Center Director Kirill Serebrennikov outside the Basmanny District Court of Moscow. On August 22, law enforcement detained Kirill Serebrennikov on suspicion of organizing major embezzlement.

Vladimir Astapkovich | AP

Russian actor Artur Smolyaninov faces criminal charges in his home country after allegedly making “anti-Russian” comments in a newspaper interview, investigators said on Monday.

Smolyaninov, who starred in the 2005 film “The 9th Company” about the Soviet Union’s ill-fated military campaign in Afghanistan, said in an interview last week that he would fight for Ukraine, not Russia, if he had to take part in the conflict.

Smolyaninov said last October that he was no longer living in Russia.

His comments – made in an interview for Novaya Gazeta Europe, a newspaper now banned in Russia – drew condemnation from members of the Russian parliament, one of whom said the actor should be barred from all state-contracted films.

“For my part, I will appeal to the Investigative Committee with a request to initiate a criminal case against this traitor,” lawmaker Biysultan Khamzaev told the RIA news agency.

Russian lawmakers attend a session of the State Duma, the lower house of parliament.

Russian State Duma | via Reuters

The Investigative Committee said on Monday it had launched a criminal case against Smolyaninov after he took part in an interview with a “Western publication”, but did not provide further details.

Since Russia invaded Ukraine in February 2022, dozens of actors and artists have fled abroad in fear of breaching the country’s tough new laws on spreading “misinformation” about the war in Ukraine or discrediting the Russian army.

Moscow calls its actions in Ukraine a “special military operation” designed to demilitarize and “denazify” the country. Kyiv and its Western allies cast the invasion as an unprovoked act of aggression aimed at seizing territory.

— Reuters

Market missile attack kills 2, prosecutor says

A Ukrainian Presidential Office handout shows a view of a structure burning due to a Russian missile attack, in which one person died and 7 others were injured, in Shevchenkov town of Kupyansk district in Kharkiv, Ukraine on January 8, 2023.

Anadolu Agency | Anadolu Agency | Getty Images

Two women have reportedly been killed in a Russian missile attack on a market in the village of Shevchenkove in the Kharkiv region of northeastern Ukraine.

The missile strike took place earlier on Monday morning with regional officials first reporting the attack. The press service of the Kharkiv Regional Prosecutor’s Office reported on Telegram, in comments translated by Google, that a child was wounded in the strike, and two women were killed.

“The occupiers launched a rocket attack on Shevchenkive village of Kupyan district. An enemy missile hit the territory of the local market. Two women died. Three more women and a 10-year-old girl were injured,” the prosecutor’s office said.

A Ukrainian Presidential Office handout showing personnel conducting a search and rescue operation at the scene following a Russian missile attack, in which one person died and 7 others were injured, in Shevchenkove in the Kupyansk district in Kharkiv, Ukraine on January 8, 2023.

Anadolu Agency | Anadolu Agency | Getty Images

According to preliminary data, Russian forces had fired at the settlement from a S-300 air defense system from the border region of Belgorod.

Prosecutors and police investigators are collecting and recording material evidence from the attack site as part of a pre-trial investigation into a potential war crime.

— Holly Ellyatt

Kremlin rejects Ukrainian claim that Russia is pushing a possible peace deal in Europe

A person walks past a New Year decoration Kremlin Star, bearing a Z letter, a tactical insignia of Russian troops in Ukraine, at the Gorky Park in Moscow on December 29, 2022.

Alexander Nemenov | Afp | Getty Images

The Kremlin on Monday rejected a Ukrainian assertion that a senior Russian official has been floating the idea of a potential peace deal over Ukraine with European officials.

Oleksiy Danilov, secretary of Ukraine’s National Security and Defence Council, told the country’s public broadcaster on Thursday that Dmitry Kozak, deputy head of Russia’s presidential administration, had been holding meetings with European officials in an attempt to force Kyiv to sign what he characterized as an unfavourable peace deal.

Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov, when asked about Danilov’s assertion, said it was “another fake.”


Russia and Belarus to conduct joint tactical exercise as military buildup continues

Russian President Vladimir Putin and Belarusian President Alexander Lukashenko at the Palace of Independence on Dec. 19, 2022, in Minsk, Belarus.

Contributor | Getty Images News | Getty Images

A joint tactical exercise involving Belarus’ and Russia’s air forces will begin on Jan. 16 and will continue until Feb. 1, according to the Belarusian Defense Ministry, as reported by state news agency BelTA.

An “aviation component” representing the Russia’s aerospace forces arrived in Belarus on Sunday, BelTA reported. It’s expected that “all the airfields and training areas” of Belarus’ air force will be used during the tactical exercise.

The latest report on joint military exercises by allies Belarus and Russia (which have an economic and defense alliance called the “Union State”) comes days after BelTa reported another statement from the defense ministry that stated that “the buildup of the regional military force of Belarus and Russia continues for the sake of ensuring the military security of the Union State of Belarus and Russia.”

The buildup of the joint regional military force involves Russian “personnel, weapons, military and special hardware” continuing to arrive in Belarus.

“The arriving army units are supposed to go through combat shakedown events in Belarusian military exercise areas later on,” BelTA reported last Friday.

Belarus’ President Alexander Lukashenko has repeatedly stressed that the country will not enter the Ukraine war as an active participant, although Minsk has allowed Russia to launch attacks on Ukraine from its territory and has provided logistical support to its neighbor. Joint military exercises with Russia, plus the formation of a joint military unit between the countries, have only deepened suspicions that Belarus could look to support on the battlefield Russia as the war drags on.

BelTA cited the country’s defense ministry as stating that “the decision to create the Belarusian-Russian regional military force in Belarus’ territory had been made, and is being realized, purely for the sake of enhancing the security and defense of the Union State of Belarus and Russia depending on the evolving situation along the border.”

— Holly Ellyatt

Russian forces strike market in Kharkiv region, death and injuries reported

Russian forces struck a village market in the Kharkiv region in northeast Ukraine, according to a top regional official, with one woman dying in the strike and several others hospitalized.

Ukrainian rescuers work on the site following a Russian missile strike on a local market in Shevchenkove village, Kharkiv region on January 9, 2023, amid the Russian invasion of Ukraine.

Sergey Bobok | AFP | Getty Images

“The enemy is again launching missile strikes on the Kharkiv region. In the urban-type settlement of Shevchenkove, Kupiansk district, a missile strike (preliminarily from an S-300 air defense system) was launched on the local market. All emergency services are working at the scene,” Oleh Syniehubov, the head of the Kharkiv Regional Military Administration, said in a post on Telegram, according to comments translated by Google.

In a subsequent post purportedly showing images of the destroyed market after the attack, Syniehubov said a 60 year-old woman had died in the attack and seven others had been injured and hospitalized, among them a 13-year-old girl. CNBC was unable to verify the information in the posts.

— Holly Ellyatt

Russia backs banning of maps disputing official ‘territorial integrity’

Russia’s government extended support to a legislative amendment that would classify maps that dispute the country’s official “territorial integrity” as punishable extremist materials, the state-owned TASS news agency reported on Sunday.

The amendment to Russia’s anti-extremism legislation stipulates that “cartographic and other documents and images that dispute the territorial integrity of Russia” will be classified as extremist materials, the agency reported.

Russia’s sweepingly ambiguous anti-extremism legislation — it applies to religious organizations, journalists and their materials, as well as the activity of businesses, among others – has allowed the Kremlin to tighten its grip on opponents.

Pedestrians pass a giant wall mural showing a map of the Crimean peninsula filled with the flag of the Russian Federation, in support of the Russian annexation, in Moscow, Russia, on Friday, March 28, 2014.

Bloomberg | Bloomberg | Getty Images

The new amendment, TASS reports without citing sources, emerged after its authors pointed out that some maps distributed in Russia dispute the “territorial affiliation” of the Crimean Peninsula and the Kuril Islands.

Russia annexed Ukraine’s Crimea in 2014 – a move rejected by Ukraine and many countries as illegal. Ukrainians and their government have since often objected to world maps showing Crimea as part of Russia’s territory.

Russia and Japan have not formally ended World War Two hostilities because of their standoff over a group of islands just off Japan’s northernmost island of Hokkaido. The Soviet Union seized those islands – known in Russia as the Kurils and in Japan as the Northern Territories – at the end of the war.

The amendment must be proposed to the State Duma, Russia’s lower house of parliament, and after a review go through three readings. It is then sent to the Federation Council, the upper house, and to President Vladimir Putin for signing.

— Reuters

Russia appears cautious to use its best fighter jets in Ukraine, UK says

The Sukhoi Su-57 jet fighter at the MAKS-2019 Moscow International Airshow near Zhukovsky, southeast of Moscow.

Sopa Images | Lightrocket | Getty Images

Russia appears to be reluctant to deploy its new-generation stealth fighter jets in the war in Ukraine, fearing their potential loss, according to the latest intelligence update from Britain’s Ministry of Defense.

In a Twitter update, the ministry noted that since at least June 2022, “Russian Aerospace Forces have almost certainly used Su-57 FELON [jets] to conduct missions against Ukraine.”

“FELON is Russia’s most advanced fifth-generation supersonic combat jet, employing stealth technologies and highly advanced avionics,” the ministry added.

It said that missions using the jets have likely been limited “to flying over Russian territory, launching long range air-to-surface or air-to-air missiles into Ukraine.”

It believed that was due to Russia “highly likely prioritising avoiding the reputational damage, reduced export prospects, and the compromise of sensitive technology which would come from any loss of FELON over Ukraine,” it noted.

“This is symptomatic of Russia’s continued risk-averse approach to employing its air force in the war.”

— Holly Ellyatt

Bakhmut ‘holding out against all odds,’ Zelenskyy says

Ukrainian soldiers near a stele with a Ukrainian flag and a handwritten inscription that reads: “Bakhmut is Ukraine” on Jan. 4, 2023, in Bakhmut, Donetsk Oblast, Ukraine.

Global Images Ukraine | Getty Images News | Getty Images

The situation on the front line in eastern Ukraine hasn’t changed significantly in the first week of the year, according to President Volodymyr Zelenskyy, with “heavy fighting” continuing in the Luhansk and Donetsk regions, particularly around Bakhmut and Soledar.

“Bakhmut is holding out against all odds. And although most of the city is destroyed by Russian strikes, our warriors repel constant attempts at Russian offensive there. Soledar is holding out. Although there is even more destruction there and it is extremely hard,” Zelenskyy said in his nightly address Sunday.

“There is no such…

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