Ukraine: Yevgeny Prigozhin visits bodies of Wagner fighters
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Russian military planes have started to arrive in Belarus ahead of a “joint tactical flight exercise”, sparking fears that the northern border of Ukraine could be under threat. The first “aviation component from the Military Space Forces of the Armed Forces of the Russian Federation” touched down in Belarus on Monday, according to the Belarussian Ministry of Defence, in preparation for a 16 day military drill between the two armies. Ukrainian forces are currently stationed in the north in case Putin decides to stage a second attack on the capital Kyiv, with the latest military drills causing concern that such fears could become a reality.
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Two Brits missing in Ukraine named
Andrew Bagshaw and Christopher Parry volunteers helping with civilan evacuation and humantarian efforts in the Donetsk region were reported missing by local police.
They were last seen leaving Kramatorsk for Soledar at 8am last Friday.
On Saturday at 5.15 Pm they were reported as missing.
Police officers in Donestk are trying to locate them.
A spokesperson from the Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office said “We are supporting the families of two British men who have gone missing in Ukraine.”
Russian military conscription centre goes up in flames in blow for Putin
A fire was detected at one of the military registration and enlistment offices of Bratsk, Russia.
A military building in Bratsk, Russia, was set on fire overnight. The building was reported to go up in flames at about 2am local time.
No injuries were reported but two employees were inside.
The fire was reportedly started from the inside of the building.
The news was reported first on Twitter by Igor Sushko of the Wind of Change RG think tank in Washington DC.
British intelligence reveals location of hidden Russian jets used to strike Ukraine
The latest Ministry of Defence intelligence update on the war in Ukraine has highlighted the location of a hidden fleet of Russian aircraft.
British intelligence has found out where the Russian military is hiding a fleet of modern Su-57 jets which have been used to launch bombing raids on Ukraine.
The latest briefing shared by the Ministry of Defence on Twitter states that commercially available satellite images show five Su-57s located at an airbase in the Astrakhan region of Russia.
Britain sending ‘most capable’ Challenger 2 tanks to fight Russia would be ‘game changer’
The UK Government is reported to be weighing up a shipment of Challenger-2 tanks to bolster the Ukrainian resistance against Russia.
Britain’s move would be the first of its kind and would likely encourage other western militaries to donate their own stocks of tanks to Ukraine, according to Philip Ingram MBE, a former colonel in the British Army.
The UK is considering supplying Ukraine with British tanks for the first time to fight Russia’s invading forces, Sky News understands.
Discussions have been taking place “for a few weeks” about delivering a number of the British Army’s Challenger 2 main battle tank to the Ukrainian armed forces, a Western source with knowledge of the conversations said. Such a move would mark a significant step-up in Western support to Ukraine and could help prompt other NATO allies, in particular Germany, to follow suit.
Putin warned Russia’s only aircraft carrier in ‘state of emergency’ and about to sink
Vladimir Putin’s only aircraft carrier is in a “state of emergency” and will sink soon, according to Ukrainian Intelligence.
The Admiral Kuznetsov, a flagship of the Russian Navy, is in a “state of emergency”.
The Ukrainian Defence Ministry claimed the heavy aircraft carrier “is not capable of moving under its own power”.
In its latest update, the Ministry wrote: “Today, the ship is at the 35th ship repair plant (Murmansk).
“In order to continue repair work, a decision was recently made to transfer the ship from dry dock to one of the docks of the ship repair plant. However, even at the stage of preparation for moving, it became clear that the cruiser is not capable of moving under its own power.
“Therefore, an attempt was made to move with the help of several tugs. However, this also turned out to be impossible due to the critical condition of the ship’s hull. Ship repair specialists warned that the condition of Admiral Kuznetsov in principle does not allow it to be launched. In this case, it is highly likely that it will tip over on its side and drown.
“When the diving teams examined the hull of the ship, it was found that the metal structures below the third deck were exposed to significant corrosion. The holds are completely filled with muddy water, which makes a detailed examination of the ship from the inside impossible.”
Russian strikes kill two in late night attack in east Ukraine
Russian strikes in eastern Ukraine late on Monday evening have killed two people trapped in a car during the attack, local reports have claimed.
Pavlo Kyrylenko, Head of the Donetsk Regional Military Administration, said strikes in Kostyantynivka and Kramatorsk caused devastation.
He said that while the missiles “fell outside the city limits” in Kostyantynivka in Donetsk, the attack on Kramatorsk struck a car with two people inside.
In a statement on his Telegram channel, Mr Kyrylenko said: “The Russian occupying forces launched another rocket attack on Kramatorsk and Kostyantynivka in the late evening of January 9.
“In Kostyantynivka, rockets fell outside the city limits – no one was injured. In Kramatorsk – they hit the road on Oleksa Tyhoho street, a car burned down. According to preliminary information, two people who were in it died.”
He added that there is “no forgiveness for the Russian occupiers” when they carry out such attacks.
Iran ‘contributing to Russian war crimes’ with drone supplies
Iran has been accused of complicity in Russian war crimes against the civilian population of Ukraine by supplying Putin’s forces with, at least, hundreds of kamikaze drones, a US official has said.
US National Security Adviser Jake Sullivan said on Monday that Iran may be “contributing to widespread war crimes” through its sales of lethal suicide drones.
Russia has launched a catastrophic and continual long range missile assault on areas heavily populated with Ukrainian civilians, killing hundreds of innocent people.
Its ability to continue its attacks for several months are, in part, a result of the supply of Iranian Shahed-136 kamikaze drones.
Mr 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.”
While Iran has repeatedly denied supplying Russian with drones, the US has dismissed these claims and on January 6 announced new sanctions against Iran’s aviation and defence sectors
Ukraine has shot down more than 500 drones launched by Russia since September, according to Ukraine’s Air Force.
Sweden admits ‘holding itself back’ in Ukraine support
Sweden has been “holding itself back for far too long” in its support of Ukraine, the nation’s foreign minister has admitted.
Tobias Billstrom, who assumed the role of foreign minister after the Moderate Party took control in October, pledged to send Ukraine their high-tech Archer Artillery Systems as part of a new approach to supporting the fight against Russia.
In comments reported by Swedish publication Expressen on Monday, he said: “It is not a question of whether we should send it, but when we send it.”
Asked if supplying such offensive weapons risked increasing tensions, he added: “How can the war become more escalated than it already is? Rather, I think it’s just the opposite.
“We have held ourselves back in this regard for far too long. We have not understood that if Ukraine does not get the military equipment needed to be able to win on the battlefield, this war will drag on, which will only benefit Vladimir Putin.”
In light of France confirming last Thursday that they will send their AMX-10 RC armoured combat vehicles, and Germany pledging to provide 40 Marder infantry fighting vehicles later that day, Mr Billstrom said they will look for guidance from Paris and Berlin to ensure further support.
He added: “We will have a close and good dialogue with both Berlin and Paris to ensure that this support is maintained.”
The Archer Artillery System is a self-propelled gun system built for both Sweden and Norway.
Russian forces launch a ‘powerful assault’ in east Ukraine
Russian forces are carrying out a “powerful assault” on a city six miles northeast of Bakhmut on the Donetsk frontline after “regrouping their forces”, Ukraine has said.
Ukraine’s deputy defence minister, Hanna Maliar said Russian forces, with the help of the mercenary outfit of Wagner Group fighters, are staging a renewed attack on the city of Soledar, the taking of which would be instrumental in overrunning Bakhmut.
The Donetsk city of Bakhmut has been the epicentre of fighting in the east since the summer and its capture would represent a major loss for Ukraine.
In a statement on Telegram, Ms Maliar said: “After an unsuccessful attempt to capture Soledar and retreat, the enemy regrouped their forces, replenished losses, redeployed additional assault units, changed tactics and launched a powerful assault.
“The enemy is advancing literally on the corpses of their own soldiers, massively using artillery, multiple rocket launchers and mortars, covering even their own fighters with fire.”
She added that the Wagner Group had deployed their best reserves to secure the capture of Soledar.
China calls on Russia to negotiate peace in Ukraine
China has instructed Russia to make efforts to peacefully settle the crisis in Ukraine in the latest call between the two nations, the Chinese foreign ministry reported.
China’s newly appointed foreign minister, Qin Gang, spoke with his Russian counterpart, Sergei Lavrov, on Monday to discuss the ongoing “crisis” in Ukraine, the ministry said.
A statement from the ministry read: “A previously scheduled telephone conversation between Chinese Foreign Minister Qin Gang and Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov was held on January 9… Both sides exchanged their opinions regarding the Ukrainian crisis.”
The ministry added that Qin called for Russia to end the conflict in Ukraine via peaceful means.
A statement from the Russian foreign ministry said the two nations had “agreed that the policy of the United States and its satellites of establishing a hegemony in global affairs” was “unacceptable”.
Russian military plane arrives in Belarus
Russia and Belarus will conduct a two-week “joint tactical flight exercise” to the north of Ukraine, the Belarussian MoD has announced, involving “all airfields and training grounds”.
A statement from the MoD read: “From January 16 to February 1, 2023, a joint tactical flight exercise will be held with the aviation units of the armed forces of the Republic of Belarus and the Russian Federation, which are part of the aviation component of the RGV (s).
“Today, an aviation component from the Military Space Forces of the Armed Forces of the Russian Federation arrived in the Republic of Belarus.
“During the tactical flight exercise, all airfields and training grounds of the Air Force and Air Defense Forces of the Armed Forces of Belarus will be involved.”
Last Friday, Belarussian President Alexander Lukashenko visited a military base where Russian troops are stationed to meet troops and discuss the joint military drills.
It is the latest round of joint exercises causing concern for Ukrainian forces stationed in the north of the country in case Putin decides to launch a second attack on Kyiv from Belarus.
UK confirms two British volunteers missing in Ukraine
Two British volunteers operating near the frontlines in Donetsk, eastern Ukraine, have been confirmed missing after attempting to travel to Soledar, a city that came under heavy Russian shelling over the weekend, according to the UK foreign office.
A spokesperson said they are “supporting the families of two British men who have gone missing in Ukraine” after Ukrainian police said in a statement that contact with the pair has been lost and that an investigation and operational measures to locate the missing persons has been initiated.
The whereabouts of the two men, now identified as Andrew Bagshaw and Christopher Parry, was last known on January 6 at 8am as they prepared to travel from Kramatorsk to Soledar.
The Donetsk city of Soledar is six miles northeast of Bakhmut, which has been the epicentre of fighting since summer.
Russian bloggers claimed on Monday that the days of Ukrainian command in Soledar were “numbered” and that Putin’s forces were rapidly closing in, though these reports were dismissed by Ukrainian officials.
On Sunday, Soledar was struck by more than 100 Russian attacks, according to local officials.
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Ukraine dismisses claims Russia have surrounded Bakhmut
Ukrainian officials have debunked Russian claims that Putin’s forces, as well as the mercenary Wagner Group, have captured the city of Soledar, northeast of Bakhmut, and are “gaining a foothold” on the Donetsk frontline.
On Monday morning, pro-Russian forces of the Donetsk People’s Republic claimed they had captured the village of Bakhmutske, adjacent to Soledar, and that the advance would allow their forces to “gain a foothold in the direction of Soledar”.
Yuri Podolyaka, a popular Russian blogger, later announced that Ukraine’s days in Soledar “were numbered”.
Bakhmut has been the epicentre of fighting on the frontline since the summer and the phrase “Hold Bakhmut” has become a prominent cry of the Ukrainian Armed Forces.
Wagner Group forces, under Russian oligarch Yevgeny Prigozhin, have made it their personal mission to capture the city, allegedly because the mercenary leader seeks to gain control of salt mines located nearby.
But Russian gains in the region have been insignificant as Ukraine continues to fortify its defences. The capture of Soledar, six miles northeast of Bakhmut, would represent the largest material gain in the region since fighting began.
Following the claims that Russia was closing in on Soledar, however, the commander of Ukraine’s land forces, Col. Gen. Oleksandr Syrsky said Putin’s forces had been successfully repelled from the city and that accounts suggesting otherwise were false.
Serhii Cherevatyi, a spokesman for the eastern group of the Ukrainian Armed Forces, added that Soledar was “under constant control” of Ukrainian forces, though he acknowledged that “fierce battles” were taking place.
He said: “Direct measures are being taken to prevent the enemy from advancing further, and systematic strikes are being carried out by our side.”
He reported that 106 attacks had been carried out in the area on Sunday but that Ukraine had sent additional forces to further bolster its defences.
On Sunday night, during his nightly address, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky said Soledar and “Bakhmut is holding out against all odds”.
He added: “And although most of the city is destroyed by Russian strikes, our warriors repel constant attempts at Russian offensives there.”
Russia deploys 300 Chechen fighters in Ukraine
Soldiers from the Russian republic of Chechnya have been deployed to the frontline in Ukraine to “eradicate the cursed phenomenon called Satanism”.
Ramzan Kadyrov, head of the Chechen Republic and backed by Vladimir Putin since 2007, announced on his Telegram channel over the weekend that 300 “fighters of the AKHMAT-1 riot police of the National Guard Directorate for the Chechen Republic” have been mobilised to help Russian soldiers.
Members of the Chechen Army have been aiding Russian forces in Ukraine since the beginning of the conflict but the latest deployment acts as a vital bolster to Putin’s men, who are failing to make any significant gains along the 930-mile frontline.
In his message, Kadryov wrote: “Today, about 300 fighters of the AKHMAT-1 riot police of the National Guard Directorate for the Chechen Republic moved to help their brothers on the front line from Grozny International Airport named after the Hero of Russia Akhmat-Khadzhi Kadyrov.
“Each of them is overwhelmed with the desire to eradicate the cursed phenomenon called Satanism. There is no doubt that adherents of inhuman ideology will meet their end at the hands of our fighters as well.”
He added that Chechen soldiers had proved their “high combat capability and efficiency in carrying out assigned tasks, and an extraordinary will to win” since the start of the Russian invasion.
Russian missile strike on market kills two women
A Russian missile attack on a village market in eastern Ukraine has resulted in the deaths of two women and several injuries, including a 10-year-old girl. Heart-wrenching footage from the scene of the strike in Shevchenkove, 50 miles southeast of Kharkiv, showed a square covered in debris as rescue workers frantically searched for survivors. One woman covered in blood was spotted lying among the rubble waiting for assistance, with rescuers cushioning her head. “The Russian army committed another act of terror against the civilian population and a child was wounded, two women were killed,” the regional prosecutor’s office said.
Elon Musk slammed by ex-US general after claiming Ukraine should not be using tanks
Elon Musk sparked controversy when he referred to tanks as “death traps” in modern combat on social media. This prompted a strong response from retired US Army General Mark Hertling, who rebuked Musk’s comments. The situation arose as Ukraine was receiving a new shipment of tank-killing armored vehicles as part of a multi-billion dollar package of military aid from the United States. Mr Hertling wrote: “Not today, Satan, “My New Year’s resolution is to not engage with those who offer uninformed opinions when they have zero expertise and even less background/experience on the topic.”
Good morning from London. I’m Tim McNulty, I’ll be bringing you all the latest developments on the war in Ukraine. Please feel free to get in touch with me as I work if you have a story or tips to share! Your thoughts are always welcome.
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