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Ukraine war live updates: Zelenskyy defiant as Russia unleashes ‘massive’ missile strike;

Canada agrees to send Leopard 2 tanks to Ukraine

Ukrainian Defense Minister Oleksii Reznikov thanked his Canadian counterpart for agreeing to send four German-made Leopard 2 tanks.

Canada’s decision follows separate announcements that Germany and the U.S. will provide Kyiv with tanks.

— Amanda Macias

No indication Russia intends to use a nuclear weapon in Ukraine following tank announcement, Pentagon says

U.S. soldiers fire from an M1 Abrams main battle tank.

Picture Alliance | Picture Alliance | Getty Images

The Pentagon said that it has not seen any indications that Russia intends to use a nuclear weapon in Ukraine following Kremlin threats that the West has accelerated tensions by supplying Kyiv with tanks.

“We’ve heard these comments before and we do take these threats seriously,” deputy Pentagon spokeswoman Sabrina Singh said during a daily press briefing.

“We’ve seen no indication that Russia intends to use a nuclear weapon,” she said.

She added that the U.S. would not be dissuaded from providing Ukraine with the weapons and equipment that it needs.

— Amanda Macias

Zelenskyy strikes a defiant tone after latest Russian missile strikes

Ukraine’s President Volodymyr Zelenskyy speaks via video link during a meeting of ministers of defence at Ramstein Air Base in Germany to discuss how to help Ukraine defend itself, amid Russia’s attack on Ukraine continues, in Kyiv, Ukraine January 20, 2023. 

Ukrainian Presidential Press Service | Reuters

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy took a defiant tone after Moscow unleashed fresh missile strikes on his country, insisting Kyiv will defeat a Russian invasion nearing its one-year mark.

“Another attempt by a terrorist state to intimidate us with a massive missile strike has recently been defeated, just as the whole of Russia will soon be defeated,” he said in a post on his Telegram account, according to an NBC News translation.

Russia launched missiles at various targets in Ukraine in a strike the head of Ukraine’s armed forces called “massive.”

— Jacob Pramuk

Russia is slowing down food shipments from Ukraine, USAID says

A combine harvester of Continental Farmers Group agricultural company harvests wheat on August 4, 2022 in the Ternopil region of Ukraine. 

Alexey Furman | Getty Images

A U.S. official warned that Russia is slowing down urgent food supplies from Ukraine through a brokered humanitarian sea corridor.

There are 121 ships loaded with agricultural products waiting to leave Ukrainian ports through a U.N.-backed deal to ease Russia’s naval blockade, Erin McKee, the assistant administrator for Europe and Eurasia at the U.S. Agency for International Development, told the U.S. Senate Foreign Relations Committee.

McKee added that Russia’s war in Ukraine and its slowdown of food supply ships has exacerbated global food insecurity.

“In 2022, over 205 million people were in urgent need of humanitarian food assistance which was an 8% increase over 2021,” McKee said.

Before the war, Ukraine and Russia accounted for almost a quarter of global grain exports. Those shipments came to a severe halt for nearly six months until the U.N.’s Black Sea Grain Initiative was signed.

— Amanda Macias

Three ships leave Ukrainian ports under Black Sea Grain Initiative

Ships, including those carrying grain from Ukraine and awaiting inspections, are seen anchored off the Istanbul coastline on November 02, 2022 in Istanbul, Turkey.

Chris Mcgrath | Getty Images

Three vessels carrying 49,100 metric tons of grain and other food products have left Ukrainian ports, the organization overseeing the export of agricultural products from the country said.

The ships are destined for Italy, Turkey and Libya and are carrying wheat and barley.

The Black Sea Grain Initiative, a deal brokered in July among Ukraine, Russia, Turkey and the United Nations, eased Russia’s naval blockade and saw three key Ukrainian ports reopen.

So far, more than 675 ships have sailed from Ukrainian ports.

— Amanda Macias

More than 20,000 war crimes and human rights abuses documented in Ukraine, USAID says

A war crimes prosecutor examines the damage in a destroyed building, as Russia’s attack on Ukraine continues, following shelling in Mykolaiv, Ukraine, in this handout picture released on July 31, 2022.

Press Service of the Mykolaiv Regional Prosecutor’s Office | Via Reuters

The U.S. Agency for International Development and its partners have documented over 20,000 incidences of alleged war crimes and human rights abuses in Ukraine in the last year, said Erin McKee, the USAID assistant administrator for Europe and Eurasia.

She presented the figure in an opening statement before the U.S. Senate Foreign Relations Committee’s hearing on “Countering Russian Aggression: Ukraine and Beyond.”

USAID began investigating war crimes in 2014 after Russian forces illegally overtook Crimea and large parts of the Donbas.

The Kremlin has denied that its forces target civilians or have committed war crimes in Ukraine.

— Amanda Macias

German citizen accused of being a Russia spy arrested in Germany

Germany’s federal prosecutor’s office said it issued an arrest warrant earlier this week against a German national for allegations that he “transmitted information that he had obtained in the course of his professional activity at the Federal Intelligence Service to a Russian intelligence service.”

The individual, who was referred to as Arthur E., was arrested by officers of the Federal Criminal Police Office at Munich Airport after arriving from the United States.

“The accused is strongly suspected of complicity in treason,” according to the press release.

He is currently detained ahead of his trial.

— Amanda Macias

Biden considers a trip to Europe as one-year mark of war approaches

U.S. President Joe Biden answers a reporter’s question flanked by Secretary of State Antony Blinken and Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin as he departs after delivering remarks on continued U.S. support for Ukraine in the Roosevelt Room at the White House in Washington, U.S., January 25, 2023. 

Evelyn Hockstein | Reuters

U.S. President Joe Biden is considering a trip to Europe near the one-year anniversary of Russia’s war in Ukraine, NBC News reported.

Biden may travel to Poland — which borders Ukraine to the west — among other locations under consideration, three administration officials and a person familiar with the discussions told NBC. The plans are not finalized.

The one-year mark of Russia’s invasion will come on Feb. 24.

Through the trip, Biden aims to show support for Ukraine, according to NBC. He took a significant step in ramping up support for Ukraine’s military on Wednesday, when he announced the U.S. would send M1A1 Abrams tanks to the country.

Read the NBC story here.

— Jacob Pramuk

Turkey says it is ‘meaningless’ to restore NATO dialogue with Sweden, Finland

Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu attends a news conference as he meets with Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov in Ankara, Turkey June 8, 2022. 

Umit Bektas | Reuters

Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu said it was “meaningless” to hold a trilateral meeting with Sweden and Finland to discuss their NATO bids after protests this month in Stockholm.

Speaking at a news conference, Cavusoglu also said there is no offer to evaluate Sweden’s and Finland’s NATO membership separately.

Swedish Prime Minister Ulf Kristersson has said his country wanted to restore NATO dialogue with Turkey after Ankara indefinitely postponed trilateral talks with Sweden and Finland over their membership.

— Reuters

U.S. Treasury imposes sanctions against Russian paramilitary firm Wagner Group

A mural praises the Russian Wagner group and its mercenaries fighting in Ukraine on March 30, 2022 in Belgrade, Serbia.

Pierre Crom | Getty Images

The Biden administration announced a slew of fresh sanctions and additional measures targeting Russia’s private military firm, the Wagner Group, saying it’s engaged in an “ongoing pattern of serious criminal activity” in Ukraine, the Central African Republic and Mali.

The Treasury Department identified the Wagner Group, led by Putin crony Yevgeny Prigozhin, as a “significant transnational criminal organization.”

Last week, National Security Council spokesman John Kirby told reporters at the White House that U.S. intelligence estimates indicate the Wagner Group has at least 50,000 personnel in Ukraine, most of them recruited for the fight from Russian prisons.

Read the full story here.

— Amanda Macias

U.S. Senate committee holds hearing on Russia’s war

[The hearing and stream have ended.]

The U.S. Senate Foreign Relations Committee held a hearing on what it called “countering Russian aggression,” both in Ukraine and elsewhere.

Key officials at the State Department, Pentagon and U.S. Agency for International Development testified.

U.S. senators have largely backed the Biden administration as it has sent weapons and humanitarian aid to Ukraine during the 11 months of the Russian invasion. The effort intensified Wednesday as the U.S. announced it would send M1A1 Abrams tanks to bolster Ukraine’s defense.

— Jacob Pramuk

4 with Russian flags kicked out of Australian Open

A Russian flag is seen during the first round match between Kamilla Rakhimova of Russia and Kateryna Baindl of Ukraine is played at the Australian Open tennis championship in Melbourne, Australia, Monday, Jan. 16, 2023.

Asanka Brendon Ratnayake | AP

Four people were kicked out of the Australian Open after displaying Russian flags — which have been banned from Melbourne Park — and threatening security guards, police and Tennis Australia said Thursday.

A Victoria Police spokeswoman said the four have not been charged but were evicted from the site.

The flags, at least one of which included an image of Vladimir Putin, were being waved during a gathering outside of Rod Laver Arena after Novak Djokovic beat Russian player Andrey Rublev in straight sets in the quarterfinals of the year’s first Grand Slam tennis tournament Wednesday night.

“A small group of people displayed inappropriate flags and symbols and threatened security guards following a match on Wednesday night and were evicted. … Players and their teams have been briefed and reminded of the event policy regarding flags and symbols and to avoid any situation that has the potential to disrupt,” Tennis Australian said in a statement. “We continue to work closely with event security and law enforcement agencies.”

— Associated Press

Stoves given to needy Ukrainian civilians in Kharkiv

Volunteers carry stoves that were brought to the humanitarian aid center to be distributed to civilians in need in Kharkiv, Ukraine. Due to displacement from Russia’s war, 650 stoves will be distributed to Ukrainians.

Volunteers carry stoves that were brought to the humanitarian aid center to be distributed to civilians in need and prepared by Finnish metallurgists by collecting aid in Kharkiv, Ukraine on January 25, 2023. 

Eugene Titov | Anadolu Agency | Getty Images

Volunteers carry stoves that were brought to the humanitarian aid center to be distributed to civilians in need and prepared by Finnish metallurgists by collecting aid in Kharkiv, Ukraine on January 25, 2023. 

Eugene Titov | Anadolu Agency | Getty Images

Volunteers carry stoves that were brought to the humanitarian aid center to be distributed to civilians in need and prepared by Finnish metallurgists by collecting aid in Kharkiv, Ukraine on January 25, 2023. 

Eugene Titov | Anadolu Agency | Getty Images

Eugene Titov/Anadolu Agency via Getty Images

First tanks, now fighter jets? Ukraine’s confident it can have both

A Belgian F-16 jet fighter takes part in the NATO Air Nuclear drill “Steadfast Noon” at the Kleine-Brogel air base in Belgium on October 18, 2022.

Kenzo Tribouillard | Afp | Getty Images

The dust has barely settled since the decision by the U.S. and Germany to supply battle tanks to Ukraine, but talk has already turned to the possible use of other firepower, namely, fighter jets.

Ukraine has made no secret of the fact that it would like to receive fighter jets — such as the F-16 Fighting Falcon, a multirole fighter aircraft developed for the U.S. Air Force — from its allies to help it fight Russia.

Kyiv appears confident that, as with Western tanks, it will eventually be given F-16s too.

“We will get F-16s,” Yuriy Sak, an advisor to Ukraine’s Defense Minister Oleksiy Reznikov, told CNBC Thursday.

Sak said Kyiv expected there to be a similar approach to the tanks issue — essentially allies reluctant to give Ukraine fighter jets before an eventual agreement to do so, but said there was a hope that, in this case, the decision will be faster. “We hope that there will be no same mistakes, because we will get the F-16s,” he said.

Read the whole story here

— Holly Ellyatt

Britain wants Challenger tanks in Ukraine by end of March, minister says

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

Britain hopes the Challenger 2 tanks it is supplying to Ukraine will arrive in the country at the end of March, defence department minister Alex Chalk said on Thursday.

Earlier this month, Britain said it would send 14 of its main battle tanks along with additional artillery support to Ukraine.

“The intention is that it will be at the end of March,” he told parliament in response to a question asking when the tanks would arrive in Ukraine.

He said between now and then, Ukrainian forces would be trained intensively on how to operate and maintain the vehicles.

Other nations including the United States and Germany have also subsequently committed to supply tanks in moves hailed by Kyiv as a potential turning point in its battle to repel Russia’s invasion.

— Reuters

Tanks for Ukraine tantamount to West’s ‘direct involvement’ in the war, Kremlin says

“Zelensky knows when all this can end, it can all end tomorrow if [Kyiv] wishes,” Russian Presidential Press Secretary Dmitry Peskov told reporters Thursday.

Mikhail Svetlov | Getty Images News | Getty Images

The Kremlin said Thursday that it sees the sending of Western tanks to Ukraine as tantamount to the West’s “direct involvement” in the war.

Kremlin Spokesman Dmitry Peskov said Thursday that “European capitals and Washington are constantly making statements that sending various weapons systems, including tanks, to Ukraine does not mean the involvement of these countries or NATO in the fighting in Ukraine. We strongly disagree with this,” he told reporters, according to a NBC News translation.

“In Moscow, everything that NATO and the capitals I just mentioned are doing is perceived as direct involvement in the conflict. And we see that it is growing,” he added.

Russia reacted furiously to announcements by Germany and the U.S. on Wednesday that they would both be sending dozens of their respective tanks to Ukraine. Both Berlin and Washington insisted that the provision of offensive weaponry did not represent a threat to Russia.

— Holly Ellyatt

Russia launches ‘massive’ missile strike, Ukraine says

Broken tree limbs and other debris litter the ground at an industrial area in Kyiv following a morning missile strike that left one person dead and two wounded on January 26, 2023 in Kyiv, Ukraine.

Spencer Platt | Getty Images

The Commander-in-chief of Ukraine’s armed forces, Valerii Zaluzhny, described missile attacks on the country this morning as “massive,” saying Russia had used a variety of air and sea-based missiles.

“The enemy launched 55 air and sea-based missiles (X-101, X-555, X-47 “Kinzhal”, “Kalibr”, X-59) from Tu-95, Su-35, MiG-31K aircraft and ships from the Black Sea,” Zaluzhny said in a Telegram post Thursday.

 “The forces and means of air defense of the Armed Forces of Ukraine destroyed 47 cruise missiles, 20 of them in the area of ​​the capital,” he noted, adding that three of the four Kh-59 guided air missiles did not reach their targets.

A general view of the damaged residential buildings in the village of Gorenka in the Kyiv region.

Anadolu Agency | Anadolu Agency | Getty Images

The commander said Russia’s goal — of “putting psychological pressure on Ukrainians and the destruction of critical infrastructure” — had not changed.

CNBC was unable to verify the details in Zaluzhny’s post. Various Ukrainian officials reported missile strikes in Ukraine Thursday, a day after Ukraine’s allies agreed to send Western tanks to the country.

— Holly Ellyatt

20 missiles shot down over Kyiv’s airspace, official says

Kyiv city’s military administration said Thursday that 20 missiles of various types had been detected in Kyiv’s airspace this morning but that all “aerial targets were destroyed” thanks to air defense units.

A 55-year-old man died as a result of the fall of rocket parts, and two others were injured and hospitalized.

Serhiy Popko, head of the Kyiv City Military Administration, added that the air alert is continuing due to the take-off of a “potential carrier of Kinzhal missiles – a MiG-31 fighter jet and an A-50 control plane in Belarus.”

“Stay in shelters until the alarm is over,” Popko warned.

— Holly Ellyatt

Russian strikes on Odesa a response to UNESCO decision, official says

Ukraine’s Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba said Thursday that Russia’s missile strike on the southern port city was President Vladimir Putin’s response to UNESCO’s decision to the put the city on its list of endangered World Heritage sites.

The World Heritage Committee at UNESCO, the United Nation’s cultural agency, decided to inscribe the historic center of Odesa on the World Heritage List on Wednesday.

The Ukrainian state flag flies on a pedestal where the monument to Empress Catherine the Great of Russia, also known as Monument to the founders of Odesa, once stood on Jan. 8, 2023 in Odesa, Ukraine.

Global Images Ukraine | Getty Images News | Getty Images

UNESCO Director-General Audrey Azoulay said Odesa was “a free city, a world city, a legendary port that has left its mark on cinema, literature and the arts” and thus had been “placed under the reinforced protection of the international community.”

“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.”

— Holly Ellyatt

One dead, two injured in Russian missile strikes on Kyiv

After missile strikes targeting Ukraine’s capital city Thursday morning, Kyiv Mayor Vitali Klitschko said one person is known to have died and two others injured.

“As a result of a rocket hit into a non-residential building in the Holosiivskyi district, there is currently information about one dead and two injured. The injured were hospitalized by medics,” he said on Telegram.

There have also been updates from the cities of Odesa and Vinnytsia, to the southwest of Kyiv, with reports of damage to critical energy facilities.

Civilians take shelter inside a metro station during air raid alert in the centre of Kyiv on December 13, 2022, amid the Russian invasion of Ukraine.

Dimitar Dilkoff | Afp | Getty Images

Yuri Kruk, head of the Odesa District Military Administration, said on Telegram Thursday that Russian forces continued “to fire missiles at the territory of Ukraine from the sky and the sea.”

“There is already information about damages to 2 critical energy infrastructure facilities in Odesa. There are no casualties,” he said, asking civilians to remain in shelters.

In Vinnytsia, the head of the regional military administration Serhiy Borzov posted onTelegram that “there are hits of the enemy’s missiles in Vinnytsia [region]. There are no casualties. All operative services work on site.”

— Holly Ellyatt

After tanks decision, Russia lashes out with missile strikes

Air raid warnings are sounding out across Ukraine on Thursday morning as the country braced itself for more missile strikes from Russia. Emergency power outages have been introduced in Kyiv city and the wider…

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