Day 337 of the Invasion of Ukraine: US Sends 31 M1 Abrams, Germany Sends 14 Leopards, The Tank Coalition Grows (UPDATED)
Here are the highlights of events related to the war in Ukraine over the past 24 hours:
New wave of Russian airstrikes against Ukraine after Kyiv secures Western tanks
Russia launched a rush-hour missile attack on Ukraine on Thursday, killing at least one person in the Ukrainian capital, after a day earlier Kyiv secured Western promises of dozens of advanced battle tanks to try to repel a Russian invasion, reports Reuters.
Ukraine's military said it shot down all 24 drones sent overnight by Russia, including 15 around the capital, with no damage reported.
But soon after, air raid warnings sounded across Ukraine as people went to work, and senior officials said air defenses were shooting down incoming missiles.
Russia fired more than 30 missiles at Ukraine on Thursday, Ukrainian Air Force spokesman Yuriy Ignat revealed.
Ignat told local media that "air defense systems are working" to shoot down missiles fired by approximately six Russian Tu-95 strategic bombers that "probably" took off from Russia's Murmansk region.
The Kremlin said on Thursday it viewed the promised delivery of Western tanks to Ukraine as "direct involvement" of the United States and Europe in the 11-month conflict, something both deny.
In the capital, crowds of people hid in underground subway stations. Mayor Vitali Klitschko said one person was killed and two wounded when a rocket hit non-residential buildings in the southern part of the city.
Kyiv's military administration said more than 15 rockets fired at Kyiv had been shot down, but urged people to stay in shelters.
Ukraine's largest private power producer, DTEK, said it was carrying out emergency power cuts in Kyiv, the surrounding region, as well as Odesa and Dnipropetrovsk regions due to imminent danger.
In Odesa, the Black Sea port designated on Wednesday by the UN cultural agency UNESCO as a World Heritage in Danger site, Russian missile strikes have damaged energy infrastructure, the regional military administration said, Reuters reported.
Western analysts note that the attacks on Ukrainian cities are more of an attempt to break morale than a strategic campaign.
Both sides are expected to launch new ground offensives in the spring, and Ukraine is seeking hundreds of modern tanks in the hope of using them to break through Russian defense lines and retake occupied territories in the south and east.
Both Ukraine and Russia have so far relied primarily on Soviet-era T-72 tanks, Reuters reminds.
An air alert has been declared for almost all of Ukraine
Ukraine declared an air alert over most of the country on Thursday, and regional authorities warned of a possible missile attack, Reuters reported.
The power company announced that it was carrying out emergency power cuts in the capital city of Kyiv, the rest of Kyiv region, as well as Odesa and Dnipro (Dnipropetrovsk) regions due to the risk of a missile attack.
Two Russian missiles have been spotted over the territory of Mykolaiv region - in southern Ukraine, its governor Vitaly Kim announced on Telegram.
"The missiles are flying on the territory of Ukraine. At least two (aimed) to the northwest through Mykolaiv Oblast," the governor wrote.
Ukraine's military said its air defenses had shot down all 24 Russian drones launched in an overnight attack. Fifteen of the drones were shot down around the capital Kyiv, where no damage was reported.
News of the new air alert comes just a day after Germany announced it would authorize the delivery of advanced Leopard 2 tanks to the Ukrainian army and the US said it was preparing to send its own heavy tanks to the Ukrainian front.
The latest air attack on Kyiv was in the early hours of the New Year and resulted in the death of four people and 50 wounded in the capital and several other cities.
On the morning of January 14, a Russian cruise missile hit an apartment block in Dnipro, killing 45 people, including six children. 20 people were reported missing.
Ukraine shot down 47 out of a total of 55 Russian missiles fired at it this morning
The Ukrainian air defense has shot down 47 out of a total of 55 Russian missiles fired at Ukraine today, the Chief of the Ukrainian General Staff, General Valery Zaluzhny, announced today, quoted by Reuters.
Moscow used X-47 Kinzhal hypersonic missiles, as well as X-101, X-555, Caliber and X-59 missiles, in the attack, Zaluzhny said on his Telegram channel. 20 of the missiles were shot down in the area of the capital Kyiv, he added.
"The goal of the Russians remains unchanged - to exert psychological pressure on the Ukrainians and destroy critical infrastructure," the general wrote, adding: "But we will not break!"
Biden officially announced: the US is sending 31 M1 Abrams tanks to Ukraine
After weeks of discussion and consultation with its partners, the United States will send 31 M1 Abrams tanks to Ukraine, US President Joe Biden announced in a live address on Wednesday as the clocks in Kyiv struck 7 p.m. The U.S. will also provide the necessary training and supplies needed to operate and operate these tanks, Biden said.
Tune in as I deliver remarks on our continued support for Ukraine. https://t.co/kE6LoH14qa— President Biden (@POTUS) January 25, 2023
"Today I had a long conversation with our allies in Europe. We discussed the continuation of our united support for Ukraine," Biden said, listing the factors Ukraine needs to protect itself from aggression, and among them he pointed first and foremost to the possibility of a counteroffensive.
The US president said sending the tanks would "increase Ukraine's ability to defend its territory and achieve its strategic goals" because they are "the most effective tanks in the world".
"It's about helping Ukraine defend itself and defend Ukrainian land. This is not an offensive threat to Russia, there is no offensive threat to Russia," the president said. In addition to the tanks, the White House will hand over a total of over 500 units of combat equipment to Ukraine. Kyiv will also receive 8 repair and evacuation machines for maintenance of the tanks. The training program for Ukrainian tank personnel begins immediately.
Joe Biden also said that Russian troops should go back to where they belong - in Russia. "Today this war would end. We want it all, an end to this war," added the American president.
The Minister of Defense of Ukraine Oleksii Reznikov warmed up for the news from the White House during the day after a conversation with Lloyd Austin. “I had a phone conversation with Secretary of Defense Lloyd James Austin III. We discussed the results of Ramstein 8, the further strengthening of the Ukrainian army, including the supply of tanks and the maintenance of the new armament. More good news will be announced soon. We have full confidence and strong support from the US. Together to victory," wrote the Minister of Defense of Kyiv.
Earlier yesterday, Joe Biden held a video conference call with French President Emmanuel Macron, German Chancellor Olaf Scholz, Italian Prime Minister Giorgia Meloni and British Prime Minister Richie Sunak about the close cooperation between their countries in aid to Ukraine, the White House said, as quoted by Reuters. And the American president announced that the decision about the tanks was made after consultation with them.
The conversation took place after Germany announced that it would provide Ukraine with a company of 14 Leopard 2 tanks from its stockpile and approve the shipment of such machines from other European countries.
The tanks announced by the White House will not be available to the Ukrainians immediately. It will take months before the high-tech machines arrive on site in Ukraine, US officials say, and the training of Ukrainian crews is expected to continue for several months. The tanks will be paid for through the Ukraine Security Assistance Initiative, which procures weapons and equipment from private industry rather than US stockpiles.
Just last Friday, US officials insisted that President Joe Biden was reluctant to provide Abrams tanks to Ukraine because members of his national security team, including Defense Secretary Austin and Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff General Mark Milley, did not believe they would bring benefits to Ukrainians given how difficult they are to manage and maintain.
On the same day, news broke of deliveries of German Leopard2s, Berlin's agreement to transfer Polish Leopard2PLs to Ukraine, and US Abrams, along with announcements of other allies joining the "tank coalition" that Poland was calling for. Norwegian radio Dagnsytt 18 reported that the Norwegian army will also give tanks to Kyiv. This will probably be the beginning of the supply of armaments that could determine the outcome of the war and will be replenishing the "Zalushny" (Залужни) list.
In December, the head of the Ukrainian General Staff, Valery Zaluzhny, speaking about the plans and strategies of the Armed Forces of Ukraine for 2023, commented in an interview with "The Economist" on Ukraine's specific needs for armaments that would make it possible to liberate the occupied and annexed Russian territories. Then Zaluzhny said that as a general he needed 300 tanks to take back the lost territories. If the number 300 does not seem realistic enough at this stage, it is quite possible that in the near future the composition of the armored forces will be replenished with about 120 tanks, before that old Soviet tanks were given to Ukraine and Morocco, and the number will certainly be larger. It is known that Poland will send 14 "Leopards", Finland, Sweden and Denmark, which are ready to participate, have not announced the number, Portugal is ready to provide 4 of their 12 "Leopards". The armies of Turkey and Greece have larger quantities of this model, but so far there is no indication whether they would join.
In this situation, it is quite possible to form at least two armored battalions. According to military experts, in order for Western aid to be effective, there should have been at least one manned battalion of 56 machines (the 31 M1 Abrams, according to American experts, would constitute a separate battalion), now the bar has been raised. It will move towards the creation of an armored brigade, of at least two armored battalions - 119 tanks and one mechanized battalion composed of infantry fighting vehicles, such as, for example, the promised German Marders (40 of them are needed) or the American Bradleys, with which Kyiv will also have - the USA promised in the last package of military aid to Ukraine 109 such machines.
The tank deliveries announced yesterday will help strengthen Ukraine's potential and are likely only part of the overall puzzle of forming modern formations in the Armed Forces to enable Ukrainian forces to counter-offensive conducted according to the "NATO textbook" in coordination with the others types of troops and weapons with which the resulting tanks will interact - attack helicopters and multi-role aircraft, such as the F-16, which Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba hinted at yesterday.
It is now official - Germany is giving Ukraine "Leopard 2" tanks
Germany is supporting Ukraine in the war against the Russian aggressors with Leopard 2 main battle tanks, the German government has officially announced.
Germany will deliver 14 Leopard 2 A6 main battle tanks to Ukraine by the end of March. In addition, the German government gives permission to other countries to supply their own Leopard tanks. Chancellor Olaf Scholz announced this at a cabinet meeting, government spokesman Steffen Hebestreit said.
"The decision follows our well-known line of supporting Ukraine in the best possible way. We are acting internationally in close coordination," the Chancellor's statement said.
The decision was preceded by months of debate. The goal is for the international coalition established in Europe to form two tank battalions with "Leopard 2" (a total of 80 tanks) as quickly as possible. The package also includes ammunition, logistics and systems support.
A little later, Scholz announced the achievement in front of the Bundestag and faced the deputies for questions.
"Germany will always be at the forefront when it comes to supporting Ukraine," Scholz said in his speech. He added that at the same time Germany must guarantee that the war will not "escalate into a war between Russia and NATO". "We will always keep this principle in mind," Scholz said.
The German chancellor also said US President Joe Biden was a good partner for Germany and their recent talks had been in a friendly tone, dismissing speculation that Washington was angry at the long delay in the decision on tanks.
Meanwhile, a German government spokesman said Germany has so far received no requests from partner countries to re-export Leopard 2 tanks to Ukraine, except from Poland. The partner countries are likely to announce their plans in the "coming hours and days", the spokesman added.
Germany, as a manufacturing country, plays a key role in the issue of Leopard supply. When military equipment is sold to other countries, so-called end-use clauses are always included in the contracts. These clauses stipulate that the German government must consent to the transfer of arms to third countries. Scholz was under particular pressure because of an official export request from the Polish government. For some time, Poland has been putting pressure on Germany in the discussion about the supply of battle tanks. President Andrzej Duda announced that he wants to give Ukraine 14 Leopard battle tanks. It is now clear that the German government will approve the Polish export request.
Of the 14 European countries that have Leopard tanks, in addition to Poland, Finland and the Netherlands also expressed their willingness to supply battle tanks. On the other hand, the Czech Republic has announced that it does not want to give up the Leopard 2 battle tanks that Germany promised as part of the arms exchange in which it participated and received the West in return for the surrender of old Soviet weapons.
"Now it is not possible to continue sending the Leopards, because we need these tanks for our security," Czech Prime Minister Petr Fiala told the DPA news agency.
The first Leopard tanks from Germany may arrive in Ukraine in about three months, German Defense Minister Boris Pistorius announced after a meeting of the Bundestag Defense Committee in Berlin, quoted by DPA.
According to him, training and determination of delivery routes will begin very soon.
Pistorius called the decision to provide the tanks "historic" because it was taken in concert in the conditions of the "extremely explosive situation in Ukraine".
Ukraine: The first step was taken
The Ukrainian presidency expressed satisfaction with Berlin's decision to send 14 Leopard tanks to Kyiv.
"The first step has been taken," the head of the presidential office, Andrii Yermak, said on Telegram, quoted by BTA.
Yermak also called on other Western countries to send Ukraine some of these battle tanks so that Ukraine could resist the Russian invasion.
"We need a lot of leopards," he added.
NATO: This can help Ukraine win
NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg praised Germany for its decision to provide tanks to Ukraine.
"I strongly welcome the leadership of the Federal Chancellor and Germany in giving Leopard 2 tanks to Ukraine after consultation with other NATO allies and partners. At this crucial moment in Russia's war, it can help Ukraine defend itself, defeat and triumph as an independent country," he tweeted.
I strongly welcome the leadership of @Bundeskanzler & #Germany in providing #Leopard2 tanks to #Ukraine in consultation with other #NATO Allies & partners. At a critical moment in Russia’s war, these can help Ukraine to defend itself, win & prevail as an independent nation.— Jens Stoltenberg (@jensstoltenberg) January 25, 2023
The Russian Embassy in Berlin: Germany abandoned its "historical responsibility" to Russia
By sending the tanks, Germany abandoned its "historical responsibility" to Russia. This statement was released by the Russian embassy in Berlin following the German government's statement.
"This extremely dangerous decision brings the conflict to a new level of confrontation and contradicts the statements of German politicians about the reluctance of the Federal Republic of Germany to be drawn into it," said Ambassador Sergei Nechaev.
Switzerland enters the game. A parliamentary committee voted to drop the ban on military re-exports
The Swiss parliament's security policy committee has proposed dropping the re-export ban that prevents domestically produced ammunition from being re-exported by a third country to Ukraine, Reuters reported.
The parliamentary body's recommendation was passed by 14 votes to 11 and must be approved by the country's parliament.
"The majority of the committee believes that Switzerland should make a contribution to European security, which includes providing more aid to Ukraine," the committee said in a press release issued late on Tuesday.
Switzerland has previously rejected calls from Germany to allow it to re-export Swiss ammunition to Ukraine, saying such a move would violate its neutrality. However, pressure is growing for Bern to review its policies, including at the World Economic Forum in Davos last week.
The commission's statement said its proposal did not violate Switzerland's principle of neutrality, as the weapons would pass through another country and not directly into a conflict zone.
The vote in the parliamentary committee is important in the context of the need for ammunition in the Armed Forces for the German Gepard self-propelled gun. In October, Germany formally asked Switzerland to transfer shells for the cannon, manufactured at Switzerland's Oerlikon-Buehrle, to Kyiv, but was refused.
Zelensky on the tank deliveries: The key now is speed and volume
The key to the delivery of tanks for Ukraine's defense against Russia is quick action and sending enough tanks, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky said last night, quoted by Reuters.
In his evening video address, Zelensky said he had spoken with NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg and called for supplies of long-range missiles and aircraft to complement the U.S. and German commitment to provide his country with advanced battle tanks.
"The key now is speed and volume. Speed in the training of our forces, speed in the delivery of tanks to Ukraine. The amount of tanks," the president noted, BTA reports.
"We must form such tank forces, such forces of freedom, after the blow of which tyranny will never rise again," he further stated.
Russia, which 11 months ago invaded its western neighbor Ukraine in its so-called "special military operation" to protect Russian security, condemned the decision for the tanks as a dangerous provocation.
In connection with the conversation with Stoltenberg, Zelensky said:
"Progress needs to be made on other aspects of our defense cooperation," namely long-range missiles, artillery and aircraft for Ukraine.
"This is a dream. It is also a task. An important task for all of us," he added.
Delivery of US tanks can take months
The delivery of M1 Abrams tanks from the United States to Ukraine could take months, the spokesman for the National Security Council at the White House, John Kirby, confirmed, quoted by Reuters.
Earlier, President Joe Biden announced that the US would send 31 modern tanks of this model to Kyiv to help it repel Russian invaders.
Delivery of the M1 Abrams could be a long process, Biden admitted at the same time.
His administration officials, quoted by Reuters, said it would take months, not weeks
DPA defines the decision of the United States to supply Ukraine with "M1 Abrams" as a major reversal. Earlier, the Biden administration has repeatedly said that it does not intend to send such heavy tanks to Kyiv.
John Kirby explained the change in plans to the changed conditions on the battlefield. Ukraine must be ready for the moment when the weather will improve and the Russian offensive will gain speed, he explained.
Kirby said he does not expect Russia to retaliate against NATO in response to the alliance's announced tank deliveries to Ukraine.
Kuleba published cryptic lines from a conversation with a European partner
“- Now the F-16?
- It’s on, my friend!”
Such cryptic remarks, a fragment of a conversation with a European partner were published by the Foreign Minister of Ukraine, Dmytro Kuleba.
"I just received the question from a European colleague. And I answered him. He knows what he's doing. One should know that no matter how hard it is, one should not give up. As sad as it is, one cannot despair. No matter how many fortune-tellers are tried, they will all die like dew in the sun. You must always believe and work hard. And everything will happen. Because Ukraine can do everything!" Kuleba wrote on his Facebook.
Last week, the topic of deliveries of F-16 fighter jets to Ukraine appeared in a speech before the Dutch parliament by the country's foreign minister Wopke Hoekstra, and then the issue was also commented on by Prime Minister Mark Rutte.
As Hoekstra stated, if Kyiv submits a request for the delivery of F-16s, The Hague will consider this request. On Friday, Rutte tempered expectations a bit, saying that the Netherlands does not yet foresee handing over the F-16s to Ukraine, as it is too big a step.
Putin's MP recreated the Battle of Kursk in a gym for 2.2 million rubles
The activist of the pro-Putin party "Edinaya Rossiya" in the Samara town of Syzran arranged a recreation of one of the biggest battles of the time of the Second World War - the Battle of Kursk in a chamber version - in the gymnasium of the local university. Some of the students fought for the homeland, others on behalf of Nazi Germany, and last year the local parliament allocated funding in the amount of 2.2 million rubles - about 30 thousand EUR - for the staging of the reenactment.
The battle took place at the end of 2022 in the sports hall of the Syzran branch of the Samara State Technical University. The imitation of the battle of 1943, which turned the tide of the Second World War, was played within the framework of the historical-patriotic festival for children and teenagers "I remember and I'm proud!" The money was given by the Presidential Fund for Cultural Initiatives, and the recipient was the organization "Splotiavane", led by the deputy in the City Duma from "Edinaya Russia" Sergey Ivanov.
A video recording of the battle shows how in the sports hall students, dressed in the appropriate uniforms, are ticking correspondingly labeled mock-ups, which are supposed to depict tanks of the two warring powers. The sounds imitating the firing of the tanks are reproduced by the tank students themselves, who hit the hull of the models with their fists.
All this happens under the roar of explosions from the sound system and the loud laughter of the audience present.
After the release of the YouTube versions of the battle, a huge scandal broke out in Russia, accustomed to all kinds of patriotic savagery, and the district prosecutor's office of the Samara region has started an investigation against the city deputy Sergey Ivanov, local media reports. The prosecutor's investigation is based on a report by the assistant of another member of parliament who is a member of Ivanov's party, who reported that Ivanov, who received the grant, was late with the implementation of the event, and moreover, he realized it at a very low artistic level.
Sergey Ivanov, who is the director, screenwriter and producer of the event, heads the local boxing federation and the sports-patriotic club in the city. According to him, the prosecutor's investigation that began was the result of internal party struggles
Meanwhile, the projects that won funding under the presidential grants for 2023 have already been announced. Over 30 of them are related to the war in Ukraine. Among them there are interesting patriotic thoughts.
For example, the graduates of a boarding school in the Chelyabinsk region will sew hoods, scarves and thermal underwear for the front, in Kirov warm clothes and hats, and the "We knit for ours" project will knit socks. Another project will provide physical assistance to women whose husbands are at the front - the help will consist of chopping their wood, digging their gardens and other household chores within the framework of the approved "Man for an hour" project. All events are financed from the central budget of Russia, the Russian section of Radio Freedom reports. The total amount for these projects is 4.3 billion rubles.
Russia was left without an invitation to celebrate the liberation of Auschwitz by the Red Army
Russian representatives have not been invited to the commemoration of the 78th anniversary of the liberation of the Nazi death camp Auschwitz-Birkenau on January 27 for the first time since the end of World War II.
The BNR reports, citing the Auschwitz museum in Poland and the French news agency France Presse, that the reason why there are no Russian representatives at the celebration of the concentration camp liberated by the Red Army is the Kremlin's war in Ukraine.
So far, Russia has always participated in the ceremonies, as its representative delivered a speech at the main ceremony, BTA reminds.
According to the director of the museum, Piotr Chivinski, "it is obvious that he could not have signed a letter of invitation to the Russian ambassador in the context of the conflict."
"I hope this will change in the future, but we have a long way to go... Russia will need an extremely long time and a very deep introspection after this conflict to return to the society of the civilized world," he said quoted by the Polish news agency PAP.
On the day of the Russian invasion of Ukraine on February 24, the museum called the Russian attack a "barbaric act".
"History will be the judge of this barbaric act, and its perpetrators, hopefully, the International Criminal Court," the museum wrote in a post on Twitter.
Built in occupied Poland, "Auschwitz-Birkenau" is a symbol of the genocide carried out by Nazi Germany, over six million European Jews, one million of whom died in the camp between 1940 and 1945, as well as over 100,000 people of various nationalities. Among them are about 20,000 captured Soviet soldiers.
When the Red Army liberated the camp on January 27, 1945, Soviet soldiers found about 7,500 prisoners alive.
The French foreign minister is visiting Odesa
French Foreign Minister Catherine Colonna arrived in the Ukrainian city of Odesa on a visit aimed at underlining France's support for Ukraine against the Russian invasion, AFP reported.
She is there "to show France's support for the sovereignty of Ukraine, now as before," Colonna wrote on Twitter along with a photo of herself in front of a landmark in the city.
Despite being delayed by a new wave of Russian strikes overnight and into the morning, Colonna was still scheduled to meet her Ukrainian counterpart Dmitry Kuleba at the historic Black Sea port.
They will discuss "the immediate and urgent needs of Ukrainians for military and civilian equipment," a diplomatic source told AFP.
Following the US and German decisions to supply battle tanks, some observers are questioning whether France will send its Leclerc model to Ukraine.
So far, "President (Volodymyr) Zelensky has not said he needs Leclerc tanks," the diplomatic source told AFP.
They cited "obvious" reasons related to logistics, maintenance and low stocks of the tank, which is operated by fewer countries than the US Abrams and Germany's Leopard 2.
What's more, "for any army to have 10 different types of tanks in its force would create an almost intractable logistical equation," the source added.
Colonna's visit also follows the inclusion of Odesa on Wednesday in the register of endangered world heritage sites of the UN cultural organization UNESCO.
"Today's massive missile strike Russia hit Odesa causing massive power outages," Kuleba wrote on Twitter.
"This destruction is (Russian President Vladimir) Putin's response to the inclusion of Odesa on the UNESCO World Heritage List yesterday."
Later today, Colonna is expected to visit an electrical engineering site destroyed in the Russian strike, as well as a center housing refugees from the southern city of Kherson.
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