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Latest Developments in Ukraine: Jan. 11

Local residents remove debris and carry belongings out of a shop destroyed in recent shelling in the course of Russia-Ukraine conflict in Donetsk, Russian-controlled Ukraine, Jan. 10, 2023.
Local residents remove debris and carry belongings out of a shop destroyed in recent shelling in the course of Russia-Ukraine conflict in Donetsk, Russian-controlled Ukraine, Jan. 10, 2023.

For full coverage of the crisis in Ukraine, visit Flashpoint Ukraine.

The latest developments in Russia’s war on Ukraine. All times EST.

11 p.m.: Russian oil revenues are falling because of the price cap that Western countries imposed on its crude oil shipments and, ahead of further caps on Russia's oil products, Europe is well positioned to manage any price pressures, Reuters reported, citing a U.S. Treasury official said on Wednesday.

The Group of Seven countries, Australia and the European Union will extend sanctions on Russia over its war in Ukraine by putting a price cap on its oil products, such as gasoline and diesel, on February 5. The coalition placed a $60 per barrel limit on sea-borne Russian crude oil sales late last year.

Russia is losing a great deal of money daily because of the cap, the senior Treasury official told reporters in a teleconference.

"For every dollar Russia is not getting in revenue, that's one less dollar they can use propping up their economy, or investing into weapons they need to fight this illegitimate war in Ukraine," the official said.

1o p.m.:

9:32 p.m.: The Joint Coordination Center reports that no vessels left Ukrainian ports and no vessels transited through the maritime humanitarian corridor heading toward Ukrainian ports Wednesday under the Black Sea Grain Initiative because of bad weather conditions.

Currently, 28 vessels are waiting for inspection: Eight of them waiting to move into Ukrainian ports and 20 are loaded with cargo waiting to sail to their global destinations.

As of Wednesday, the total tonnage of grain and other foodstuffs exported from the three Ukrainian ports remains 16,945,661 metric tons. A total of 1,269 voyages (636 inbound and 633 outbound) have been enabled so far.

8:33 p.m.: Russian President Vladimir Putin discussed energy and transport projects with Iran's President Ebrahim Raisi in a telephone call on Wednesday, Reuters reported, citing the Kremlin.

Moscow and Tehran have moved to forge closer relations after Russia sent tens of thousands of troops into Ukraine last February, prompting sweeping Western sanctions. Russia and Iran, which is also under Western sanctions, are among the world's largest oil exporters.

In a readout of the call, the Kremlin said that the two countries hoped for a "normalization" of the situation in Syria, and to "restore" the country's territorial integrity.

7:51 p.m.: Jailed Kremlin critic Alexey Navalny said Wednesday that he is being refused access to hospital treatment by prison officials after falling sick, in what his team called an underhand attempt to kill him, Agence France-Presse reported.

Navalny, the most prominent opponent of President Vladimir Putin, said he had flu symptoms including a fever but was being kept in a punishment cell at his maximum-security prison outside Moscow.

He also requested during a court hearing on Wednesday that it be postponed because of his illness.

6:54 p.m.:

6 p.m.: Britain's Royal Navy said on Wednesday it was tracking the movements of a Russian warship armed with missiles sailing in international waters in the North Sea, close to Britain, Reuters reported.

“Escorting warships in UK territorial waters and the adjacent sea areas is routine activity for the Royal Navy," the British frigate HMS Portland's Commanding Officer, Commander Ed Moss-Ward, said in a statement.

“By maintaining a visible and persistent presence, the Royal Navy ensures compliance with maritime law and deters malign activity."

5:01 p.m.: Russia has again replaced its top commander in Ukraine, putting army chief of staff Valery Gerasimov in charge of its forces in the conflict, Agence France-Presse reporting, citing the defense ministry on Wednesday.

"Army General Valery Gerasimov, Chief of the General Staff of the Russian armed forces, has been appointed Commander of the Joint Grouping of Troops (Forces)," the ministry said.

Sergei Surovikin, the commander of Russia's forces in Ukraine for the past three months, will become Gerasimov's deputy.

Surovikin will work alongside two other generals, Oleg Salyukov and Alexei Kim, according to the statement.

4:20 p.m.: Ukraine would be able to win the war in 2023 if it receives more Western weapons, particularly long-range missiles and heavy tanks, Ukrainian presidential adviser Mykhaylo Podolyak told AFP Wednesday.

Otherwise, the war will grind on "for decades," Podolyak said, pointing to the bloodiest fighting taking place in eastern Ukraine in Bakhmut and Soledar.

"Only missiles with a range of more than 100 kilometers will allow us to significantly accelerate the de-occupation of our territories," he told AFP in an interview.

The United States last year supplied Ukraine with missile systems with a range of around 80 kilometers that were credited with turning the tide of the conflict in Kyiv's favor on several fronts.

Kyiv has also recently received similar French systems.

But it is putting pressure on Washington to deliver U.S. ATACMS (Army Tactical Missile System) missiles, which boast a range of around 300 kilometers.

These systems would allow Ukrainian forces to target Russian arms depots deep inside Ukrainian territory controlled by Moscow but currently out of range of the weapons in Kyiv's arsenal.

3:27 p.m.: Brokering a deal on a safe zone around Ukraine's Russian-controlled Zaporizhzhia nuclear power plant is getting harder because of the involvement of the military in talks, the head of the U.N. nuclear watchdog said on Wednesday, according to Reuters.

The Soviet-era plant, Europe's largest, was captured by Russian forces in March, soon after their invasion of Ukraine. It has repeatedly come under fire in recent months, raising fears of a nuclear disaster.

"I don't believe that (an agreement) is impossible, but it is not an easy negotiation," International Atomic Energy Agency Director General Rafael Grossi said in an interview with Italian public television RAI.

Grossi, who previously said he hoped to broker a deal on protecting the plant before the end of 2022, said talks with Kyiv and Moscow had become more complicated because they involve not just diplomats, but also military officers.

2:30 p.m.: Rear Admiral Michael Studeman, the commander of Office of Naval Intelligence and director of the National Maritime Intelligence-Integration Office, spoke virtually with the Intelligence and National Security Alliance (INSA) on Wednesday, VOA’s national security correspondent Jeff Seldin reported.

Studeman spoke about a number of topics and shared several assessments about Russia’s naval capabilities and its use of naval forces against Ukraine. Seldin shared details of the briefing on Twitter.

2:10 p.m.: President Volodymyr Zelenskyy urged NATO on Wednesday to do more than just promise Ukraine its door is open at a July summit, saying Kyiv needs "powerful steps" as it tries to join the military alliance, Reuters reported.

Kyiv requested fast-track NATO membership last September, seven months after Russia invaded Ukraine. NATO says it has an s open-door policy to Ukraine but has not said whether it will accelerate moves towards Kyiv's possible accession.

Such a move would be likely to touch a nerve in Moscow which casts NATO as a hostile military bloc bent on encroaching on Russia's sphere of influence.

"For today, just support for Ukraine from colleagues in NATO and support in the form of rhetoric about open doors is not enough for Ukraine. Namely, not enough to motivate our state ... our soldiers," Zelenskyy said in the western city of Lviv after talks with the presidents of Lithuania and Poland.

1:40 p.m.: Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty’s Ukrainian Service was given access to the Kyiv Heart Institute, where surgeons continue to perform life-saving operations despite blackouts. Since the start of Russia's full-scale invasion, the institute has had to prepare for all kinds of disasters, including using multiple diesel-powered generators and digging a well to guarantee the supply of water for patients and essential medical services. Despite the challenges, the Kyiv Heart Institute says it performed a record number of surgeries in 2022.

1:05 p.m.: Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy has announced his revocation of the citizenship of four Ukrainian lawmakers suspected of treason, including three from a banned pro-Russian party, and signaled more bans were still to come, Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty reported Wednesday.

He said late on January 10 he took the unusual move against Andriy Derkach, Taras Kozak, Renat Kuzmin, and Viktor Medvedchuk "based on materials prepared" by the Ukrainian Security Service and the State Migration Service.

At least three are outside the country and all have been the target of legal proceedings alleging treason since Russia's unprovoked full-scale invasion began in late February.

"If people's elected representatives choose to serve not the people of Ukraine, but the murderers who came to Ukraine, then our actions will be appropriate," Zelenskyy said in his nightly video address to the nation.

He added that these were "not the last such decisions."

12:25 p.m.: The U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) said on Twitter Wednesday that it is helping to fund a program aimed at supporting Ukrainian children recover from the trauma of war.

11:50 a.m.: Poland has decided to send Leopard tanks to Ukraine as part of an international coalition, the Polish president said on Wednesday, as Warsaw seeks to play a leading role in reaching a consensus among Western allies on such support, Reuters reported.

Kyiv has been requesting heavy military vehicles such as the German-made Leopard 2, which would represent a significant step-up in Western support to Ukraine.

“A company of Leopard tanks will be handed over as part of coalition-building,” Andrzej Duda said during a visit to the western Ukrainian city of Lviv. “We want it to be an international coalition.” A company typically consists of 14 tanks.

Duda said that he hoped that the Polish tanks, together with tanks from other countries, would soon travel to Ukraine.

Speaking alongside Duda, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy said that a joint decision was necessary, as one country would not be able to provide Kyiv with a sufficient number of tanks.

11:30 a.m.:

11:05 a.m.: Roughly eight out of 10 people seeking protection in Germany last year came from Ukraine as part of the largest flight of people in Europe since World War Two, the interior ministry said on Wednesday, according to Reuters.

After Russia's invasion in mid-February, 1,045,185 people who fled Ukraine were registered in Germany, it said, adding that most of them were women and children.

Russian President Vladimir Putin's "criminal war of aggression against Ukraine has triggered the largest flight movement in Europe since World War Two," said Interior Minister Nancy Faeser in a statement.

In addition to the Ukrainian refugees, who do not need to go through an asylum procedure, over 244,000 people filed an asylum application last year, 27.9% more than the year before.

The majority of asylum applications came from people from Syria, followed by nationals of Afghanistan, Turkey and Iraq.

10: 35 a.m.:

10:10 a.m.: A price cap and European Union embargo on most Russian oil have cut into Moscow’s revenue from fossil fuels, but the Kremlin is still earning substantial cash to fund its action in Ukraine because the $60-per-barrel cap was “too lenient,” The Associated Press reported, quoting the Helsinki-based Centre for Research on Energy and Clean Air.

Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov said Wednesday that he would view such assessments with skepticism.

Peskov noted that in case of lowering the cap, “Russia will do everything to protect its interests.”

Russian Finance Minister Anton Siluanov said at a Cabinet meeting Tuesday that last year’s revenue was higher than planned thanks to oil and gas prices exceeding expectations. He said the government used the extra revenue to increase social spending.

Western governments have struggled to find a way to cut into the fossil fuel income that is the main funding source for Russia’s government budget and its military action in Ukraine.

9:20 a.m.:

8:45 a.m.: Russia said on Wednesday that the European Union was becoming a vassal of NATO, citing the signing of a joint declaration in which the two organizations pledged to deepen their cooperation in response to Russia's war in Ukraine, Reuters reported.

In the declaration on Tuesday, NATO and the EU stated: "Today, we are faced with the gravest threat to Euro-Atlantic security in decades. Russia’s brutal war on Ukraine violates international law and the principles of the U.N. Charter." They pledged to "take our partnership to the next level" in response to the growing threats and challenges.

Russian Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Maria Zakharova said the move "confirms the complete subordination of the European Union to the tasks of the North Atlantic bloc, which is an instrument to guarantee U.S. interests by force." She said the Europeans faced "the unenviable fate of an American vassal, losing their positions in world politics and economics, falling into increasing dependence on Washington with every step."

The statement was in line with Moscow's efforts to cast the war in Ukraine as part of an existential struggle with Western nations it says are bent on Russia's destruction. The United States has denied Moscow's claims that it wants to destroy Russia.

8:20 a.m.:

8 a.m.: NATO and the EU are launching a task force to boost protection of critical infrastructure in response to last year's attack on the Nord Stream gas pipelines and Russia's "weaponizing of energy," the organizations' leaders said on Wednesday.

European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen said the sabotage of the Russia-to-Germany pipelines in the Baltic Sea last September showed the need "to confront this new type of threat."

"This is a task force where our experts from NATO and the European Union will work hand-in-hand to identify key threats to our critical infrastructure, to look at the strategic vulnerabilities that we do have," she said in Brussels, speaking alongside NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg.

Western and Russian officials have traded accusations over the Nord Stream blasts, but officials in Sweden and Denmark investigating the attack have not named any possible culprits.

7:50 a.m.: Estonia has told Russia to reduce the number of diplomats at its embassy in Tallinn by February, the Baltic country's foreign ministry said on Wednesday, according to Reuters.

It said in a statement Russia should lower the number of diplomats to eight, which equals the number of Estonian diplomats in Moscow, Reuters reported.

The Russian embassy in Tallinn on its website lists 17 diplomats.

Since the Russia's invasion of Ukraine, Estonia has already expelled three diplomats.

"In light of the fact that during the war of aggression, the staff of the Russian embassy is not engaged in advancing Estonian-Russian relations, it is our view that there are no grounds for the current size of the Russian embassy," the ministry said on Wednesday.

7:40 a.m.:

7:15 a.m.: Ukraine must "be ready" at its border with Russian ally Belarus even though it sees only "powerful statements" coming from its neighbor, President Volodymyr Zelenskyy said on Wednesday.

Reuters reported that Zelenskyy made his comments after visiting the Lviv region, where he discussed border protection and the security situation in northwestern Ukraine.

Kyiv has warned that Russia may try to use Belarus to launch a new ground invasion of Ukraine from the north. Zelenskyy made no reference to such warnings in comments on the Telegram messaging app after taking part in what he described as a coordination meeting on security matters in the Lviv region.

"We discussed state border protection, the operational situation on the border with the Republic of Belarus, and counter-subversive measures in these territories," he said.

"We understand that apart from powerful statements, we do not see anything powerful there, but nevertheless we must be ready both at the border and in the regions."

6:45 a.m.:

6:30 a.m.: The fate of Soledar, a devastated salt-mining town in eastern Ukraine, hung in the balance Wednesday as Ukraine said its forces were holding out against a furious Russian onslaught in what has become one of the fiercest and most costly battles in the almost 11-month war, The Associated Press reported.

Though unlikely to provide a turning point in the war, Soledar’s fall to Russian forces after months of Ukrainian defense would be a prize for the Kremlin.

Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov said Wednesday that Russian forces had “positive dynamics in advancing” in Soledar, but he stopped short of declaring its capture when asked about the claims that it has come under Russian control. “Let’s not rush and wait for official statements,” he said.

Soledar, known for salt mining and processing, lies in the Donetsk region and has little intrinsic value. But it lies at a strategic point 10 kilometers (6 miles) north of Bakhmut, which Russian forces are aiming to surround.

Taking Bakhmut would disrupt Ukraine’s supply lines and open a route for Russian forces to press toward Kramatorsk and Sloviansk, key Ukrainian strongholds in Donetsk.

Soledar’s fall would make “holding Bakhmut much more precarious for Ukraine,” Michael Kofman, the director of Russia Studies at the CAN nonprofit research organization in Arlington, Virginia, noted Wednesday.

The costly war of attrition, with expected heavy casualties, may make Russia’s victory as costly as a defeat, however.

6:15 a.m.:

6 a.m.: Russia's human rights commissioner said on Wednesday that "important words about the need for a ceasefire" had been said during a meeting with her Turkish and Ukrainian colleagues in Ankara, Russian state-owned news agency RIA reported.

Reuters reported that Tatiana Moskalkova said that a ceasefire was necessary to stop human rights violations, and that she had also asked Turkey to stop supplying arms to Ukraine.

5:30 a.m.: Belarus's defense ministry said on Wednesday that joint Russian-Belarusian air defense forces had been reinforced, with new missile units moved into position, according to Reuters.

"Anti-aircraft missile units advanced to designated areas and took up combat duty," the ministry said in a brief statement.

Belarus is a close ally of Russia and allowed President Vladimir Putin to use its territory as one of the launchpads for his February 24 invasion of Ukraine. The two countries plan to hold joint aviation drills in the second half of January, beginning next Monday.

Ukraine has repeatedly warned that Putin may try to use Belarus to launch a new invasion of Ukraine from the north, a step that would open a major new front in the war.

5:05 a.m.: Reuters reported that Ukraine's military denied on Wednesday that Russian forces had taken control of the eastern town of Soledar, and said the intensity of battles in the area could be compared to fighting in World War II.

Serhiy Cherevatyi, spokesperson for the eastern military command, told Ukrainian television that Ukrainian forces had not allowed Russian forces to break through front lines.

"The town is not under the control of the Russian Federation. There are fierce battles going on now," he said. "There is a complicated situation there."

He said the military command was "working now on how to stabilize the situation with the maximum impact for the enemy and minimum losses for Ukraine."

Russian mercenary group Wagner has said it has taken control of Soledar, a salt-mining town near the city of Bakhmut where fighting has also been fierce as Russia tries to capture the entire Donbas region of eastern Ukraine.

"The intensity of battles near Bakhmut can be compared with World War Two," Cherevatyi said.

Reuters was unable to independently verify the situation on the ground in Soledar.

Cherevatyi said Russian forces still had a lot of Soviet-era weapons and were using Soviet-era armored vehicles with some modernized elements.

"Our partners are providing us with more modern weapons," he said, adding that Western weapons were more precise and gave Ukraine an advantage.

4:40 a.m.: Reuters reported that Russian Human Rights Commissioner Tatiana Moskalkova said on Wednesday that Ukraine and Russia had agreed on an exchange of 40 prisoners of war after meeting her Ukrainian counterpart Dmytro Lubinets.

4:25 a.m.: Ukraine's human rights ombudsman Dmytro Lubinets commented on the Wednesday meeting he held in Turkey with Russian counterpart Tatyana Moskalkova, Agence France-Presse reported.

They "discussed a wide range of humanitarian problems and issues related to the provision of human rights assistance to citizens of the two countries," Lubinets said on Facebook, while Moskalkova said in a separate statement that they discussed "humanitarian aid to citizens of both countries."

Reuters reported that they were later expected to visit the Turkish presidential palace, where President Tayyip Erdogan is scheduled to make a speech for the conference at 1130 GMT.

A Turkish source said Moskalkova and Lubinets were expected to possibly discuss a humanitarian corridor and the situation of children who fled the war. Issues such as the Black Sea grains corridor or a potential prisoner swap would be discussed at higher levels, the source said.

Russia and Ukraine have conducted numerous prisoner swaps — most recently on Sunday — in the course of the war, which is now in its 11th month.

3:40 a.m.: Agence France-Presse reported that Kyiv denied Wednesday that forces from Russian mercenary group Wagner had taken the important gateway town of Soledar in east Ukraine, whose capture would pave the way for further gains in Donbas.

"Soledar was, is and will be Ukrainian," the strategic communications branch of the Ukrainian military said in a statement, saying pictures released by the Wagner fighting group that Russian media said were taken in Soledar had been taken elsewhere.

3 a.m.: The fate of the Ukrainian city of Soledar was unclear on Wednesday, with Russian mercenary group Wagner claiming control of it while also saying "urban battles" were still being fought, Agence France-Presse reported.

Both sides have said the battle for Soledar, known for its salt mines, has been intense and bloody. Its fall would mark a significant victory for Moscow's forces.

Soledar, in the Donetsk region, lies 15 kilometers (nine miles) from the city of Bakhmut, which Russia has been trying to seize for months.

Yevgeny Prigozhin, the head of Russia's controversial mercenary Wagner group, claimed in the early hours of Wednesday that his fighters seized control of the town.

"Wagner units have taken control of the whole territory of Soledar," Prigozhin alleged on social media.

But the Kremlin-linked businessman added that "urban battles are being fought in the city center."

He also said "the number of captives" will be announced Wednesday.

He posted a photograph of himself in military attire, surrounded by Wagner fighters, without saying where it was.

Russian state news agency RIA Novosti published another photograph of Prigozhin with armed fighters, saying it was taken in the salt mines of Soledar.

Prigozhin has said Soledar had been stormed "exclusively" by Wagner units.

The Russian army has not yet commented.

Ukraine said this week its fighters were holding out against intense assaults on the city.

"Even after suffering colossal losses, Russia is still maniacally trying to seize Soledar," Kyiv's defense ministry said late on Tuesday.

President Volodymyr Zelenskyy said there was a "difficult situation" in the Donetsk region in his daily night address on Tuesday. He praised the "bravery" of Ukrainian soldiers defending Soledar.

Earlier this week he said Soledar had been flattened by fighting: "Everything is completely destroyed."

The U.K. said Tuesday that Moscow's forces were "likely in control" of Soledar.

2:42 a.m.:

2:05 a.m.: Reuters reported that Russia's Gazprom said that it would ship 35.5 million cubic meters of gas to Europe via Ukraine on Wednesday, a volume broadly in line with recent days.

1:30 a.m.:

1:15 a.m.:

12:55 a.m.: Russian Human Rights Commissioner Tatiana Moskalkova said on Wednesday that she discussed humanitarian assistance with her Ukrainian counterpart Dmytro Lubinets, Reuters reported, citing Moskalkova’s post on the Telegram messaging app.

"We discussed issues of providing humanitarian assistance to citizens of the two countries," Moskalkova said Telegram.

Lubinets said before the meeting in Turkey that the main issue for the talks was to be "the return of our heroes and heroines," a reference to prisoner exchanges.

12:25 a.m.: Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau on Tuesday said his government would purchase a U.S. air defense system to donate to Ukraine, Agence France-Press reported.

The U.S.-built air defense system is worth $302 million, Defense Minister Anita Anand said.

The announcement was made after a bilateral meeting between Trudeau and U.S. President Joe Biden in Mexico City.

Canada is offering the National Advanced Surface-to-Air Missile System (NASAMS) to Ukraine to counter Russia's massive bombardment of its critical infrastructure, Anand said.

"Canada will continue to stand with the Ukrainian people as they fight against Russia's illegal and unjustifiable invasion," Anand tweeted.

Ukraine President Volodymyr Zelenskyy responded that Canada had "vividly proven" its support.

"Thank you for helping us to protect our sky. NASAMS procured for us by Canada will be a strong shield for our cities and citizens," Zelenskyy tweeted.

12:01 a.m.: The United States will gather its allies in Germany next week for a new round of talks on backing Ukraine militarily, Agence France-Presse reported Tuesday, citing the U.S. airbase in Ramstein.

U.S. Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin will host an in-person meeting of the Ukraine Defense Contact Group meeting at Ramstein on January 20, the base said in a statement.

The Ukraine Defense Contact Group includes some 50 countries supporting Ukraine's war effort against Russia.

NATO chief Jens Stoltenberg said earlier that Kyiv's Western backers would meet next week with Ukraine's defense minister "to discuss exactly what types of weapons are needed and how can allies provide those weapons."

Some information in this report came from Agence France-Presse, The Associated Press and Reuters.

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