Russia-Ukraine live updates: US announces new weapons package for Ukraine
Written by ABC Audio All Rights Reserved on February 3, 2023
(NEW YORK) — Almost a year after Russian President Vladimir Putin launched an invasion into neighboring Ukraine, the two countries are engaged in a struggle for control of areas throughout eastern and southern Ukraine.
Putin’s forces pulled out of key positions in November, retreating from Kherson as Ukrainian troops led a counteroffensive targeting the southern port city. Russian drones have continued bombarding civilian targets throughout Ukraine, knocking out critical power infrastructure as winter sets in.
Here’s how the news is developing. All times Eastern:
Feb 03, 2:49 PM EST
US announces 1st transfer of seized assets to war effort
Attorney General Merrick Garland announced during a meeting with Ukraine’s top prosecutor on Friday that he has authorized the first transfer of forfeited Russian assets to go toward the Ukrainian war and recovery effort.
The $5.4 million was formally ordered confiscated Thursday from sanctioned Russian businessman Konstantin Malofeyev. Garland’s order will direct the money to the State Department for use in Ukraine under a new law signed by President Joe Biden late last year.
“The Justice Department will continue to hold accountable Russian oligarchs and others whose criminal acts enable the Russian government to continue its unprovoked and unjust war in Ukraine,” Garland said in his meeting with Ukrainian Prosecutor General Andriy Kostin. “And we will continue to work closely with our international partners to support investigation and prosecution of the atrocities that have occurred during this war.”
Kostin thanked Garland for authorizing the transfer, which he said showed “the responsible party pays for the devastation that it caused.”
“The reparation of tremendous human and material damage to Ukraine and Ukrainian people is an important aspect in our quest for justice,” Kostin said.
-ABC News’ Alex Mallin
Feb 03, 1:41 PM EST
US announces $2.2 billion in aid to Ukraine
The U.S. announced another $2.2 billion in security assistance for Ukraine on Friday.
The package includes “critical air defense capabilities to help Ukraine defend its people, as well as armored infantry vehicles and more equipment that Ukraine is using so effectively, including Javelin anti-tank missiles, artillery ammunition, and conventional and long-range rockets for U.S.-provided [High Mobility Artillery Rocket Systems],” the Department of Defense said in a statement.
The weapons package includes precision-guided rockets, or Ground Launched Small Diameter Bombs, which have a longer range than the Guided Multiple Launch Rocket System missiles Ukraine currently has, though not as long as the Army Tactical Missile System (ATACM) missiles that Ukraine has requested.
The package includes the authorization of presidential drawdown from existing U.S. stocks valued at up to $425 million and $1.75 billion in Ukraine Assistance Security Initiative funds for new weapons purchases, the Department of Defense said.
–ABC News’ Luis Martinez
Feb 03, 11:55 AM EST
Zelenskyy: ‘Nobody will give away Bakhmut’
President Volodymyr Zelenskyy said Ukraine will “fight for as long as we can” to hold on to the eastern city of Bakhmut in remarks on Friday.
“Nobody will give away Bakhmut,” Zelenskyy said during a news conference with European Union officials after a summit in Kyiv, Reuters reported. “We consider Bakhmut our fortress.”
“Ukraine would be able to hold Bakhmut and liberate occupied Donbas if it received long-range weapons,” he added.
The remarks come as Ukrainian and Russian forces remain locked in a brutal battle in and around Bakhmut.
Feb 01, 6:32 PM EST
2 civilians killed in ballistic missile strike in Kramatorsk: Zelenskyy
At least two people were killed and more injured in Kramatorsk after a Russian ballistic missile hit a residential building, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy said.
“Some people are still under the rubble. No goal other than terror,” Zelenskyy said. “The only way to stop Russian terrorism is to defeat it. By tanks. Fighter jets. Long-range missiles.”
-ABC News’ William Gretsky
Feb 01, 1:51 PM EST
US issues additional sanctions against Russian military-industrial complex
The U.S. Treasury Department announced a new round of sanctions against 22 individuals and entities across various countries it alleges have aided Russia’s military-industrial complex evade other sanctions already in place. The U.S. is specifically targeting a father and son arms-dealing duo and their vast international network.
The department said these steps are part of “the U.S. strategy to methodically and intensively target sanctions evasion efforts around the globe, close down key backfilling channels, expose facilitators and enablers, and limit Russia’s access to revenue needed to wage its brutal war in Ukraine.”
-ABC News’ Shannon Crawford
Jan 31, 7:31 AM EST
Human Rights Watch calls on Ukraine to investigate use of landmines in Izium
Human Rights Watch is calling on Ukraine to investigate its military’s “apparent use of thousands of rocket-fired antipersonnel landmines in and around the eastern city of Izium where Russian forces occupied the area.”
The international non-governmental organization issued a press release on Monday saying it has “documented numerous cases in which rockets carrying PFM antipersonnel mines, also called ‘butterfly mines’ or ‘petal mines,’ were fired into Russian-occupied areas near Russian military facilities.” Ukraine is a state party to the 1997 Mine Ban Treaty, which prohibits any use of antipersonnel mines.
Human Rights Watch said it has previously documented Russian forces’ use of antipersonnel landmines in Ukraine in 2022.
“Ukrainian forces appear to have extensively scattered landmines around the Izium area, causing civilian casualties and posing an ongoing risk,” Steve Goose, arms division director at Human Rights Watch, said in a statement. “Russian forces have repeatedly used antipersonnel mines and committed atrocities across the country, but this doesn’t justify Ukrainian use of these prohibited weapons.”
Jan 29, 7:34 PM EST
Reports of 3 dead, 6 wounded in Kherson from Russian shelling: Zelenskyy
Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy highlighted the Russian shelling of Kherson in his evening address Sunday, saying there are “reports of six wounded and three dead” from the recent shelling.
“Today, the Russian army has been shelling Kherson atrociously all day. Residential buildings, various social and transport facilities, including a hospital, post office and bus station, have been damaged,” Zelenskyy said. “Two women, nurses, were wounded in the hospital. As of now, there are reports of six wounded and three dead.”
Zelenskyy spoke with the president-elect of the Czech Republic Sunday and invited him to come to Ukraine, he said.
Zelenskyy also noted the progress that was made last week in getting NATO members and allied countries to commit to sending more weapons to Ukraine, but added, “We have to make the next week no less powerful for our defense.”
-ABC News’ Ellie Kaufman
Jan 26, 1:11 PM EST
11 dead, 11 injured in missile strikes on Ukraine
Eleven people died and 11 others were injured in Russian missile strikes throughout 11 regions of Ukraine on Thursday, according to Ukrainian emergency services.
Two fires broke out and 35 buildings were damaged in the strike.
-ABC News’ Will Gretsky
Jan 26, 11:17 AM EST
US designates Russia’s Wagner Group as ‘transnational criminal organization’
The U.S. Treasury Department announced sanctions against a number of individuals and entities associated with the Wager Group in Russia and across the world in an effort to “degrade the Russian Federation’s capacity to wage war against Ukraine,” the department said in a statement.
The U.S. designated Russia’s Wagner Group a “transnational criminal organization,” not just for the alleged atrocities it has committed during Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, but also for its alleged human rights abuses in African countries like the Central African Republic.
The U.S. believes the Wagner Group has 50,000 people fighting in Ukraine, including 40,000 convicts, according to the White House. The group’s leader is Russian President Vladimir Putin’s ally Yevgeniy Prigozhin, who was already facing several U.S. sanctions.
Last week, the White House first announced the U.S. would take this step.
Jan 26, 5:21 AM EST
One dead in Kyiv in Russian missile strike
At least 15 missiles fired at Kyiv on Thursday were shot down, officials said.
One person was killed and two were wounded after part of a missile fell in the Holosiivskyi District of Kyiv, Mayor Vitaliy Klychko said. The missile hit a residential building, he said.
Air raid sirens began sounding just before sunrise in the capital. Some residents fled to shelters, including Kyiv’s metro stations.
A missile also struck Vinnytsia, the local governor said. No casualties were immediately reported there.
Jan 26, 2:00 AM EST
Air raid sirens sound in Kyiv
Air raid sirens went off across Ukraine as Russia launched multiple missiles from the east and south. Some were shot down, according to Andriy Yermak, head of the president’s office.
Airborne forces last night shot down all 24 unmanned aerial vehicles launched by Russia. At least 15 of those were shot down in or around Kyiv, according to the local authorities. No casualties or impacts were reported.
Jan 25, 6:31 AM EST
Germany to deliver tanks to Ukraine, in major step for allies’ support
German officials said on Wednesday they plan to deliver 14 Leopard 2 tanks to Ukraine.
“This decision follows our well-known line of supporting Ukraine to the best of our ability,” Chancellor Olaf Scholz said in a statement. “We are acting in a closely coordinated manner internationally.”
Officials said the decision was the result of intensive consultations that took place with Germany’s closest European and international partners. Other European allies also plan to send tanks, German officials said.
Ukrainian troops will be trained on the tanks in Germany, officials said in a statement. Germany also planned to send ammunition and provide system maintenance.
Jan 24, 2:53 PM EST
US considering sending Abrams tanks to Ukraine: Officials
The Biden administration is leaning toward sending M1A1 Abrams tanks to Ukraine, U.S. officials have confirmed to ABC News.
The U.S. could commit to sending between 30 to 50 tanks to Ukraine under the Ukraine Security Assistance Initiative.
It could take more than a year for the new tanks to be fielded, officials said.
While President Joe Biden has not made a final decision, the transfer of Abrams would presumably enable Germany to authorize the transfer of German-made Leopard 2 tanks to Ukraine. This could then allow the 12 NATO countries that have Leopard 2 tanks to transfer them to Ukraine.
The decision could be announced as early as this week, officials said.
Jan 23, 5:11 PM EST
Zelenskyy issues new rule barring officials from personal travel out of country
Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy announced a new policy that forbids Ukrainian officials from leaving the country for non-governmental purposes.
“Officials will no longer be able to travel abroad for vacation or for any other non-governmental purpose,” Zelesnkyy said in his evening address Monday. “Within five days, the Cabinet of Ministers is to develop a border-crossing procedure for officials so that only a real working trip can be the reason for border crossing.”
-ABC News’ Ellie Kaufman
Jan 19, 7:06 PM EST
CIA director held secret meeting with Zelenskyy in Kyiv: US Official
CIA Director William J. Burns traveled to Kyiv and met with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy and Ukrainian intelligence officials last week, a U.S. official told ABC News.
The director “reinforced our continued support for Ukraine in its defense against Russian aggression,” according to the official.
The Washington Post first reported the meeting earlier Thursday.
-ABC News’ Cindy Smith
Jan 19, 6:13 PM EST
Pentagon announces $2.5B more aid for Ukraine
The Pentagon announced Thursday evening that it will provide Ukraine with $2.5 billion in additional aid for its efforts fighting Russian forces.
This is the 13th drawdown of equipment from the Department of Defense’s inventories for Ukraine since August 2021, the agency said.
The package includes several weapons and equipment such as 59 Bradley infantry fighting vehicles and 90 Stryker armored personnel carriers, the DoD said.
-ABC News’ Luis Martinez
Jan 19, 4:34 PM EST
UN nuclear watchdog chief ‘worried’ about a disaster in Ukraine
The head of the United Nations nuclear watchdog group said Thursday that he is worried the world is becoming complacent about the “very precarious” situation posed by the Russian-controlled Zaporizhzhia nuclear plant in Ukraine.
Russian forces seized the plant, Europe’s largest, in March 2022 and it has repeatedly come under fire in recent months, raising fears of a nuclear disaster. Rafael Grossi, director general of the U.N.’s International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), is working to set up a safe zone around the facility.
“I think the situation is very precarious,” Grossi told reporters in the Ukrainian capital of Kyiv. “I worry that this is becoming routine, that people may believe that nothing has happened so far, so is the director general of the IAEA crying wolf?”
Grossi said two major explosions occurred near the plant on Thursday, adding to the alarming situation.
“We know every day that a nuclear accident or an accident having serious radiological consequences may take place,” said Grossi before travelling to Moscow for talks with Russian officials.
Jan 19, 1:53 PM EST
Zelenskyy calls for new sanctions against Russia’s nuclear industry
Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy on Thursday pleaded with leaders of the European Union to pursue new sanctions against Russia’s nuclear industry and energy carriers.
During a joint news conference in Kyiv with European Council President Charles Michel, Zelenskyy said he believes a tenth package of sanctions “could be even more effective” than the previous ones.
“The time has come, in particular, for sanctions against the Russian nuclear industry, against all its branches, organizations and all entities that work for the Russian missile program,” Zelenskyy said.
He also expressed his frustration over Germany’s hesitation to send Leopard tanks Ukraine.
“The issue of tanks remains relevant and very sensitive,” Zelenskyy said. “It depends on many reasons and, unfortunately, does not depend on the will of Ukraine. We create pressure as hard as we can politically, but the essential thing is that our pressure is well-reasoned.”
Zelenskyy added, “Against thousands of tanks of the Russian Federation, as I told our colleagues, only the courage of our military and the motivation of the Ukrainian people are not enough.”
Since the United Kingdom announced last week it will send Challenger 2 tanks to Russia, the German government has faced mounting pressure to follow suit, or at least allow NATO allies such as Poland to supply Ukraine with German-made Leopard tanks.
“The delivery of Leopard tanks to Ukraine is still a matter of dispute in the Bundestag (national parliament),” according to a statement released Thursday by the German government, which added that the issue is still the subject of “heated debate.”
Jan 18, 6:10 PM EST
Close to 100 Stryker armored vehicles part of next aid package: US official
A U.S. official confirmed to ABC News that the upcoming aid package to Ukraine will include close to 100 Stryker Armored Vehicles and additional Bradley fighting vehicles.
The Stryker is a wheeled armored vehicles that can carry as many as 11 soldiers inside and is equipped with a 30mm gun and or machine gun that are remotely fired from inside the vehicle. It’s fast moving and can be used on roads or off roads, though the off road option is better handled by the tracked Bradley fighting vehicles.
-ABC News’ Luis Martinez
Jan 18, 5:49 PM EST
Zelenskyy provides update on helicopter crash
Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy provided an update on the helicopter crash near Kyiv near a kindergarten.
Zelenskyy said 14 people were killed in total including Ukrainian Interior Minister Denys Monastyrski and one child.
Twenty-five people were injured, including 11 kids, the president added.
“Hundreds of people were involved in extinguishing the fire, searching and rescuing the injured, carrying out the initial investigative actions,” Zelenskyy said.
The president praised the efforts of kindergarten teachers who rushed in to help.
“Thank you for your bold actions, for taking the children out,” he said.
Zelenskyy said the Ministry of Internal Affairs will be temporarily led by the head of the National Police of Ukraine.
“The tasks for which the Minister was responsible in the context of our defense operation and ensuring the security of the state have also been distributed,” he said.
The cause of the helicopter crash is still under investigation.
-ABC News’ Wil Gretsky
Jan 18, 12:38 PM EST
Putin prepared for long war, Nato says
Russia is preparing for an extended war so NATO must get ready “for the long haul” and support Ukraine for as long as it takes, the alliance’s Deputy Secretary General Mircea Geoana told top European military chiefs Wednesday.
NATO nations must invest more in defense, ramp up military industrial manufacturing and harness new technologies to prepare for future wars, Geoana said, speaking at the opening of the military chiefs’ meeting in Brussels.
-ABC News’ Will Gretsky
Jan 18, 9:40 AM EST
Sixteen people dead in helicopter crash, including three children
Sixteen people, including Ukrainian Interior Minister Denys Monastyrsky, died in a helicopter crash near Kyiv, according to national police, the deputy head of President Volodymyr Zelenskyy’s office and Ukraine’s security service.
Monastyrsky is considered the most senior government official to die since the war started 11 months ago.
Jan 18, 3:57 AM EST
Helicopter crash near Kyiv kills interior minister
Ukrainian officials were killed on Wednesday morning in a helicopter crash near Kyiv.
Ukrainian Interior Minister Denys Monastyrskyi, deputy Evgeniy Yenin and the state secretary of the interior ministry, Yuriy Lunkovych, died when a helicopter crashed in Brovary, a town on the outskirts of Kyiv, chief of the national police Igor Klymenko said on Facebook.
The emergency services helicopter crashed near a kindergarten in a residential area, according to officials.
According to the interior ministry, at least 18 people died, including three children. Another 22 people, including 10 children, were wounded, officials said.
The cause of the crash is unclear for now.
Jan 17, 5:06 PM EST
Zelenskyy confirms Netherlands sending Patriot Missile System
Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy announced that the Netherlands will provide Ukrainian forces a Patriot Missile System.
Zelenskyy said Ukrainian forces will now have three guaranteed Patriot batteries.
-ABC News Will Gretsky
Jan 17, 3:34 PM EST
White House condemns Dnipro attack
White House press secretary Karine Jean-Pierre talked about the latest developments in Ukraine and slammed Russia over its missile strike on the apartment building in Dnipro.
“This weekend’s strikes are another example, as you’ve heard us say, of the brutal and barbaric war that Russia is waging against the Ukrainian people,” she told reporters during a White House press briefing.
“And we have seen this over and over again,” she added.
Jean-Pierre also praised the UK’s announcement Monday that it plans to send Challenger 2 tanks to Ukraine.
The press secretary didn’t say whether the U.S. would provide tanks to Ukraine or if Biden would pressure other countries to do so.
She noted that Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin was going to host another multinational meeting on Friday of the “Ukraine Contact Group” — a gathering of defense ministers to discuss security assistance to Ukraine.
-ABC News’ Ben Gittleson
Jan 17, 12:39 PM EST
Death toll from Dnipro missile attack rises to 45: Mayor
The death toll from Saturday’s missile attack on an apartment building in Dnipro has risen to 45, including six children, according to Borys Filatov, the city’s mayor.
The search and rescue operations have ended, according to the emergency services.
In addition to the fatalities, there were 79 people wounded, including 16 children, according to emergency services.
Thirty-nine people were rescued from the rubble, including six children, emergency services said.
-ABC News’ William Gretsky
Jan 16, 4:56 PM EST
Ukrainian soldiers arrive in US for Patriot missile training
Ukrainian soldiers arrived in the United States on Sunday to begin training on the Patriot air defense missile system at Fort Sill, Oklahoma, a U.S. military official said.
The training at Fort Sill is expected to last several months, and then switch briefly to Europe, officials said.
-ABC News’ Luis Martinez
Jan 16, 4:33 PM EST
39 people, including 6 children, rescued from rubble in Dnipro
Emergency crews have rescued 39 people, including six children, who were buried under the rubble caused by a missile strike on a high-rise apartment complex in Dnipro over the weekend, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy said in his Monday evening address.
The death toll remains at 40, including three children, he said.
The Kremlin denied being responsible for the attack, saying Russia doesn’t strike residential areas and claiming the destruction was a result of Ukrainian air defense.
“The debris of the house destroyed by the Russian missile is still being dismantled in Dnipro,” Zelenskyy said. “I thank everyone who is carrying out this rescue operation. Every employee of the State Emergency Service and police, every doctor, every volunteer. Everyone who is involved.”
-ABC News’ Ellie Kaufman
Jan 16, 4:09 PM EST
Civilian survivors speak out after missile strike in Dnipro
Emergency workers were still looking for survivors Monday following a strike on a high-rise apartment building on Saturday in the Ukrainian city of Dnipro.
The death toll rose to 40 dead, including three children, making it the deadliest strike on a residential area in Ukraine in the last three months.
Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy called the attack “Russian terror,” saying Ukraine was “fighting for every person, every life” under in rubble in Dnipro and would “find everyone involved in this terror.”
The attack on an apartment building destroyed 72 units and wounded 75 residents.
Rescuers have been using cranes to remove chunk after chunk of rubble, looking for survivors.
One of the survivors, Yevgeni, told ABC News that he was in his bed when the missile struck his apartment.
“I can’t understand. I didn’t hear any bang, any voice, any sound of the missile,” said Yevgeni, adding that he suffered a head injury and that his broken window frame fell on him.
He described seeing smoke and “a lot of dust” at the scene. He said “the most scary thing (was hearing) the voices of people screaming.”
Local resident Natali Nodykova told ABC News that a friend called her to tell her there was a bombing in her neighborhood.
“My son was alone at home and of course I was afraid,” Nodykova said.
Emergency workers rescued 39 people, Ukrainian officials said. Twelve people remained unaccounted for Monday.
The attack was caused by a Soviet-made Kh-22, a long-range missile used to take down aircraft carriers, according to the Ukrainian Air Force.
The massive 13,000-pound missile causes huge amounts of casualties when used in civilian areas.
The Kremlin denied the attack, saying Russia doesn’t strike residential areas and claiming the destruction was a result of Ukrainian air defense.
The same type of weapon had been used in a previous attack on a shopping mall in the town of Kremenchuk back in July that killed 22 people, according to Ukrainian authorities.
-ABC News’ Ibtissem Guenfoud, Bruno Roeber, Oleksii Pshemyskiy, Matt Gutman and Max Uzol
Jan 16, 10:24 AM EST
Three children among 40 killed in Dnipro missile strike
The death toll climbed to 40 on Monday from a weekend missile strike on a high-rise apartment complex in the central Ukrainian city of Dnipro, according to Ukrainian officials.
At least three children were among those killed, officials said. Another 70 people were injured.
The death toll is expected to rise as 30 people remain unaccounted for, officials said.
On Saturday, a missile slammed into a block of high-rise apartment buildings in the central Dnipro. While Ukrainian officials blamed Russia for the strike, one of the deadliest attacks since the war began, the Kremlin denied Russia was involved.
“The Russian armed forces do not strike residential buildings or social infrastructure, they strike military targets,” Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov told reporters Monday.
Jan 15, 3:40 PM EST
Survivor pulled from rubble in Dnipro as death toll rises
The death toll from a Russian missile strike on a block of high-rise apartment buildings in the central Ukrainian city of Dnipro rose to 29 on Sunday.
Amidst the devastation, rescuers pulled one woman alive from the rubble on Sunday and officials said she was saved by a cocoon of concrete that surrounded her.
The survivor was rescued from a block of apartment buildings hit by a Russian missile on Saturday in the city about 500 miles southeast of the capital of Kyiv.
Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy said a child was among those killed in the Dnipro missile attack.
Despite Sunday’s rescue, emergency workers said the hope of finding more survivors is fading.
The rocket attack reduced part of a high-rise apartment building to a pile of rubble that was still smoldering on Sunday. Noxious fumes from burning couches, curtains and TVs emanated from the pile as firefighters sprayed water hoses on it and rescue workers dug through the debris with their bare hands, an ABC News crew in Dnipro reported.
In addition to the now 29 killed in the attack, more than 70 people were injured, Ukrainian officials said. The strike left hundreds of apartments uninhabitable, officials said.
Emergency crews brought in cranes Sunday to help move large pieces of debris.
As the rescue operation went on Sunday, periodic moments of silence were called for so rescuers could listen for cries for help from people feared missing in the rubble.
-ABC News’ Matt Gutman
Jan 14, 11:07 AM EST
5 killed, dozens hurt in attack in Dnipro
Five people were killed and at least 27 were wounded in a Russian attack in Dnipro in central Ukraine, according to the governor.
An apartment block was struck and at least two children are among the injured, according to the deputy head of the president’s office.
-ABC News’ Yulia Drozd
Jan 14, 9:27 AM EST
Kyiv under Russian missile attack Saturday morning
Kyiv mayor Vitali Klitschko said explosions occurred in different districts on both banks in the city on Saturday morning and, in one of the districts, fire broke out in a non-residential area.
There were no casualties as a result of the attack that happened at approximately 6 a.m. but 18 residential houses were damaged in the region, according to the governor Oleksiy Kuleba.
The spokesman for the Ukrainian Airborne Forces, Yuri Ignat, told ABC News that Ukrainian authorities think it could have possibly been a ballistic attack by Russia but could not confirm this.
“Most likely, these are missiles that flew along a ballistic trajectory from the north. Ballistics are not available for us to detect and shoot down,” Ignat said on Ukrainian television.
-ABC News’ Yulia Drozd
Jan 13, 4:02 PM EST
Russian forces claim to have taken Soledar
Russian military leaders claim their forces took over the salt-mining town of Soledar.
Video showed Russian soldiers evacuating civilians from Soledar and nearby villages to the city of Shakhtarsk as fighting took place on the outskirts on Friday.
Serhiy Cherevaty, the Ukrainian commander of the Eastern Group of Forces, however, confirmed that fighting was going on in the region but contested Russia’s claims about the status of the city in a statement to ABC News.
“We have a clear understanding of who controls which streets in the city, but I cannot reveal those details,” he told ABC News.
-ABC News’ Ellie Kaufman and Patrick Reevell
Jan 12, 1:51 PM EST
Pressure mounts on NATO countries to send tanks to Ukraine
Pressure is mounting for key NATO allies to send tanks to Ukraine.
After meeting with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy on Wednesday, Polish President Andrzej Duda said his country plans to supply Leopard tanks to Ukraine but only as part of an “international coalition.”
“They will be provided within the coalition, because you know that it is necessary to obtain certain official consents. But first we need to build an international coalition and we have decided to form this international coalition,” Duda said.
Duda “expressed hope” other NATO countries would provide Ukraine with tanks as well.
The United Kingdom has not made a final decision on whether to send tanks to Ukraine, according to the spokesperson for British Prime Minister Rishi Sunak. The United Kingdom is considering supplying Ukraine with the British Army’s Challenger 2 main battle tank, according to British media reports.
Germany is also facing pressure from Ukraine and other NATO allies to send tanks to Ukraine. So far, they have not committed to sending any tanks to the country and neither has the United States.
Germany and the United States have both agreed to supply Ukraine with armored carriers and the Patriot air defense system.
Jan 12, 12:52 PM EST
Russians, Ukrainians give conflicting views in the battle for Soledar
Russian and Ukrainian officials offered conflicting views Thursday on the battle being waged over the eastern Ukraine city of Soledar.
Both sides described their forces as making progress in the fight for the salt mining town in the Donbas region.
“Our defenders continue to hold their positions on the most difficult frontlines and in the battle for (the) Donbas,” said Hanna Maliar, the Ukrainian deputy of defense. “Today, fierce and heavy battles continue in the direction of Bakhmut, in the area of Soledar city.”
Despite the “difficult situation,” Ukrainian soldiers are desperately battling for control of Soledar, Maliar said.
“The enemy is suffering heavy losses, unsuccessfully trying to break through our defenses and capture Soledar,” Maliar said. “Today, the city’s approaches are literally littered with the bodies of Putin’s destroyed troops. Nevertheless, they move over the bodies of their fallen fighters. Our defenders show maximum resilience and heroism.”
But Kremlin spokesperson Dmitry Peskov said Thursday that Russian forces and mercenaries from the Wagner private military company are doing a “truly colossal job” in Soledar.
“These are absolutely selfless, heroic deeds,” Peskov told journalists on Thursday.
Peskov said the hostilities in the region will continue.
“There is still a lot of work to be done. No time to stop, no time to rub our hands and so on. The main work is yet to come,” Peskov said.
The Russian Defense Ministry said on Wednesday that Russia’s airborne units had blocked Soledar from the north and the south and assault teams were fighting within the town limits.
Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy said in his daily address on Wednesday that Ukrainian troops are holding onto Soledar.
“The terrorist state and its propagandists are trying to pretend” to have achieved some successes in Soledar, Zelenskyy said. “But the fighting continues.”
Jan 11, 4:51 PM EST
Russian shake-up as military chief in Ukraine replaced
Russia has replaced the military chief in charge in Ukraine, according to the Kremlin.
Army Gen. Valery Gerasimov, chief of the general staff of the Russian armed forces, will replace Sergei Surovikin, who has been commander of Russia’s forces in Ukraine for the past three months. Surovikin will become one of Gerasimov’s deputies, according to Sergei Shoigu, Russia’s minister of defense, who made the new appointments.
The changes come as the progress of the Russian forces in Ukraine continues to stall.
“The increase in the level of leadership of the special operation is linked to the expansion of the scale of the tasks at hand and the need to organize closer interaction between troops,” Shoigu said.
Jan 11, 12:17 PM EST
Ukrainians deny reports the city of Soledar on verge of falling to Russia
Ukrainian officials on Wednesday denied reports that the eastern Ukrainian city of Soledar is on the verge of being captured by Russian forces and claimed the battle for the city is ongoing.
The report contradicts British intelligence officials who on Tuesday said it appeared that Russian troops were close to capturing a salt mining town in an apparent attempt to cut off the enemy’s supply routes. The British officials said Russian forces, along with mercenaries from the Wagner private military company, were likely in control of the city of Soledar, which is about six miles north of Bakhmut in the Donbas region, where heavy fighting has been reported in recent days.
The head of the Wagner group also released a statement on Telegram Tuesday, saying his mercenaries were in control of Soledar.
But Ukrainian officials said Wednesday the city has not fallen into the hands of Russian forces and the Russian mercenary group.
“Russians say that it is under their control; it is not true,” said Serhiy Cherevatyi, a spokesperson for the Ukrainian eastern military command.
The Russian attack on Soledar is an apparent attempt to bypass Bakhmut from the north and disrupt Ukrainian supply routes, the British intelligence officials said. Part of the fighting is being waged near the entrances to the 124 miles of abandoned salt mine tunnels that run under the area.
On Tuesday, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy described the fighting in Soledar as “very difficult.”
Jan 10, 4:09 PM EST
Russia not ready to launch new offensive from Belarus: Ukrainian officials
Senior Ukrainian officials said Tuesday that they believe any prospect of Russia launching a new offensive toward Kyiv from Belarus is “not likely at this moment.”
The latest statement from Ukrainian officials contrasted with a series of interviews they gave last month in which they suggested Russia could mount an offensive early this year and even try to take Kyiv.
“Our assessment is that the Russians aren’t in a position to make an advance on Kyiv from Belarus. And if that were their intention, it wouldn’t happen for some time,” a senior Ukrainian official said Tuesday.
The Ukrainian officials added that the mere threat of an assault from Belarus means that Ukrainian forces are “fixed” along the Ukraine-Belarus border.
-ABC News’ Tom Soufi Burridge
Jan 10, 2:15 PM EST
Ukrainians set to begin Patriot air defense training in Oklahoma
As many as 100 Ukrainians troops will soon begin training on the Patriot air defense system at Fort Sill, Oklahoma, two U.S. officials told ABC News Tuesday.
Fort Sill is the main artillery school for the U.S. Army and where months-long training on Patriot systems already takes place.
Brig. Gen. Pat Ryder, a Pentagon spokesperson, said the Ukrainians could begin training on the Patriot system as soon as next week.
“The training will prepare approximately 90 to 100 Ukrainian soldiers to operate, maintain and sustain the defensive system over a training course expected to last several months,” Ryder said.
Once deployed, the Patriot batteries will fortify Ukraine’s air defense capabilities and provide an additional way for the “Ukrainian people to defend themselves against Russia’s ongoing aerial assaults,” Ryder said.
Ryder would not give a precise time frame, but said that once the training is completed, the system will be sent to Ukraine to be put to use.
President Joe Biden announced last month that the United States will provide Ukraine with a Patriot missile defense system. The German government also agreed this month to supply Ukraine with a second Patriot missile battery.
-ABC News’ Matt Seyler
Jan 10, 1:30 PM EST
Russians on verge of overtaking eastern Ukrainian city
Russian troops were on the verge Tuesday of capturing a salt mining town in eastern Ukraine in an apparent attempt to cut off the enemy’s supply routes, according to British intelligence officials.
The Russian forces, along with mercenaries from the Wagner private military company, were likely in control of the city of Soledar, which is about six miles north of Bakhmut in the Donbas region, where heavy fighting has been reported in recent days, the British officials said.
The attack on Soledar is an apparent attempt to bypass Bakhmut from the north and disrupt Ukrainian supply routes, the British intelligence officials said. Part of the fighting is being waged near the entrances to the 124 miles of abandoned salt mine tunnels that run under the area.
Despite the increased pressure on Bakhmut, Russia is unlikely to be able to encircle the city in the near future because Ukrainian forces have created a stable line of defense and control supply routes in the area, the British officials said.
The Ukrainian Army said Russian troops carried out 86 artillery strikes on Soledar in a 24-hour period, and Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy has described the fighting there as “very difficult.”
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