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Latest Developments in Ukraine: Jan. 14

A view shows an apartment building heavily damaged by a Russian missile strike, amid Russia's attack on Ukraine, in Dnipro, Ukraine January 14, 2022.
A view shows an apartment building heavily damaged by a Russian missile strike, amid Russia's attack on Ukraine, in Dnipro, Ukraine January 14, 2022.

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

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

10:02 p.m.: Russia canceled an agreed-upon prisoner swap with Ukraine, which was meant to take place on Saturday, The Kyiv Independent reported, quoting Ukraine’s Coordination Headquarters for the Treatment of Prisoners of War.

Russia and Ukraine had agreed to exchange 40 prisoners of war, Russia’s Human Rights Ombudsman Tatiana Moskalkova told Reuters on Wednesday.

Russia reportedly declined to go through with the exchange “at the last minute,” although no further details were provided.

At least 3,392 Ukrainian soldiers and civilians remain in Russian captivity as of Jan. 3, according to Alyona Verbytska, the President’s Commissioner for Protecting Defenders Rights. These are the numbers that Russia has officially confirmed, she said.

9:20 p.m.: Britain will send 14 Challenger 2 tanks and other heavy weaponry to Ukraine in the coming weeks and will train Ukrainian forces to use the tanks and guns in the coming days, Reuters reported, quoting a statement late Saturday from Prime Minister Rishi Sunak's office.

"The Prime Minister is clear that a long and static war only serves Russia's ends," a government spokesperson said in a statement published on its website.

"That's why he and his ministers will be speaking to our allies across the world in the days and weeks ahead to ramp up pressure on (Russian President Vladimir) Putin and secure a better future for Ukraine."

The Russian Embassy in London said the decision to send the tanks would drag out the confrontation, lead to more victims including civilians, and was evidence of "the increasingly obvious involvement of London in the conflict."

"As for the Challenger 2 tanks, they are unlikely to help the Armed Forces of Ukraine turn the tide on the battlefield, but they will become a legitimate large target for the Russian artillery," the embassy said, according to comments cited by the TASS news agency.

8 p.m.: Sweden and Finland are unlikely to be able to join NATO before June, a senior Turkish official said Saturday, The Associated Press reported.

The Nordic states applied to join the Western military alliance in the wake of Russia's invasion of Ukraine, but their membership must be approved by all 30 NATO states. Turkey and Hungary have yet to approve the deal, with Ankara linking accession to stricter counterterrorism measures.

"It really depends on how fast they move and how wide and deep they move on these issues," said Ibrahim Kalin, spokesman and foreign policy adviser for President Recep Tayyip Erdogan.

"What they're telling us is the new laws will be fully effective and completed by June, but maybe there are some things they can do before," Kalin said.

Turkey has demanded that Sweden and Finland tighten laws to rein in the activities of supporters of the Kurdistan Workers' Party, or PKK, and a group it blames for a 2016 coup attempt.

"In principle we would like to see them (Sweden and Finland) in NATO," Kalin told foreign journalists in Istanbul. "What they say is that they need a little bit more time. We told them 'You have to meet these conditions,' meaning that they have to send a serious message to the PKK."

7:12 p.m.: Rescue teams are working through the night in freezing temperatures, digging survivors from the rubble of a Russian missile attack on Dnipro, in east-central Ukraine, Reuters reported.

On Saturday, a Russian missile struck at nine-story apartment building, killing or wounding dozens.

Local officials say people were still alive underneath the massive pile of wreckage.

"They keep sending SMS-es," Mikhailo Lysenko, deputy mayor of Dnipro said in a social media video. "We stop our work now and then to keep silence and we hear people scream from underneath the rubble."

Kyrylo Tymoshenko, deputy head of President Volodymyr Zelenskyy's office, said 37 people had been rescued from the building. Zelenskyy said the second to ninth floors of the building's damaged section had collapsed.

6:40 p.m.: Russia's 10th mass missile strike hit Ukrainian critical infrastructure Saturday across several oblasts, Prime Minister Denys Shmyhal said, according to The Kyiv Independent.

The missiles also hit a nine-story apartment in Dnipro, killing or wounding dozens.

5:49 p.m.: As Moscow's forces advance, Russia and Ukraine continue to dispute control of the salt-mining town of Soledar amid scenes of devastation and fierce fighting on the front line in eastern Ukraine.

Russia has made multiple claims of control in the past week that have been contested by Ukrainian officials, who maintain their forces have not left the town and continue to fight.

Russia's Defense Ministry claimed on January 13 to have seized Soledar, but the statement was quickly disputed by Kyiv, with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy saying the fight for the town and others "in the east of our country continues."

RFE/RL could not verify the situation independently, but multiple reports by Russian war correspondents and bloggers who have shown their geolocations via the messaging platform Telegram suggest Russian forces have taken nearly all of Soledar.

Ukrainian forces, however, appear to still hold ground on the northwest edge of the town, with Ukraine's 46th Air Assault Brigade saying fighters were surrounded but fighting back. Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty has this report.

4:45 p.m.:

3:30 p.m.: Missile debris was found in the north of Moldova following the latest round of Russian air strikes on Ukraine, Moldova's interior ministry said on Saturday.

"Following Russia's massive bombardment of Ukraine, a border police patrol discovered ... the remains of a missile, originating from Russia's air attacks on Ukraine," the ministry said on Facebook.

Russia did not immediately comment on the report.

Reuters reports that similar incidents in Moldova, which borders Ukraine, have occurred in the past. Last December, police found fragments of a missile that came down in a region of northern Moldova near the border with Ukraine

3 p.m.: Yevgeny Prigozhin, founder of Russia's Wagner mercenary group, boasted of his forces' prowess on Saturday amid infighting with the Russian defense ministry over who should get credit for leading Russia's assault on the Ukrainian town of Soledar, Reuters reports.

After months of tension between Prigozhin and the military establishment, the split was laid bare Friday when the defense ministry claimed the capture of Soledar — which Ukraine disputes — and initially made no mention of Wagner's role in months of brutal fighting for the salt-mining town in Ukraine's east.

In a video message, Prigozhin described Wagner as a fully independent force with its own aircraft, tanks and artillery, saying "they are probably the most experienced army that exists in the world today."

The short video contained no overt new criticism of the regular army, whose failings Prigozhin has criticized in the past. But it did nothing to dispel the sense of resentment he has previously expressed that the private military group has not been properly recognized for its role in the Ukraine war.

1:45 p.m.: In his nightly video address, Ukrainian leader Volodymyr Zelenskyy appealed to Western allies for more weapons, after the latest massive missile attack by Russia throughout Ukraine.

“What is needed for this? Those weapons that are in the warehouses of our partners and that our troops are so waiting for,” he said.

“No amount of persuasion or just passing the time will stop the terrorists, who are methodically killing our people with missiles, drones bought in Iran, their own artillery, tanks and mortars," he said. "The whole world knows what can stop and how it's possible to stop those who sow death.”

1:15 p.m.:

1:05 p.m.: Russia unleashed its 10th mass missile strike targeting Ukraine's critical infrastructure on Saturday afternoon, The Kyiv Independent reports.

The nationwide attack damaged critical infrastructure in several oblasts, according to Prime Minister Denys Shmyhal. The hits caused emergency blackouts in multiple regions.

The strike also hit a nine-story apartment building in Dnipro city, killing or injuring dozens, according to Dnipropetrovsk Oblast Governor Valentyn Reznichenko. Six children were among the wounded, the official said earlier.

The air raid alert went off in all Ukrainian oblasts except occupied Luhansk Oblast and Crimea. It is still ongoing.

Explosions were reported in at least 10 Ukrainian regions across the country, such as Kyiv, Kharkiv, Khmelnytskyi, Ternopil, Dnipropetrovsk, Ivano-Frankivsk, Lviv, Vinnytsia, Mykolaiv, and Odesa oblasts.

Local authorities reported that air defense was downing Russian missiles in Mykolaiv, Odesa, Kyiv, Khmelnytskyi, Vinnytsia, and Ivano-Frankivsk oblasts.

Two Russian missiles hit a critical infrastructure site in Kharkiv Oblast, leading to emergency power cut-offs, according to Kharkiv Oblast Governor Oleh Syniehubov.

Explosions were also reported in Kharkiv, Ukraine's second-largest city in the northeast of the country, leading to power outages in most of the city’s districts and the metro’s temporary halt, according to multiple media reports.

Lviv Oblast Governor Maksym Kozytskyi said the attack also hit a critical infrastructure facility in the western Lviv Oblast. He said there might be interruptions in the power and water supply.

Another energy facility was hit in the western Ivano-Frankivsk Oblast, according to the oblast's governor Svitlana Onyschuk. A fire broke out at the site following the attack, Onyschuk said, adding that there were no casualties.

Odesa authorities earlier said the missiles were launched “from air and sea.” Earlier in the day, Southern Operational Command reported that five Russian missile carriers with a total of 36 Kalibr cruise missiles were detected in the Black Sea.

12:25 p.m.: Former Russian President Dmitry Medvedev accused Japanese Prime Minister Fumio Kishida on Saturday of shameful subservience to the United States and suggested he should ritually disembowel himself, Reuters reports.

It was the latest in a long line of provocative statements from Medvedev, who was once seen as a Western-leaning reformer but has reinvented himself as an arch-hawk since Russia invaded Ukraine last year.

Medvedev was responding to a meeting in Washington DC between Kishida and Biden, after which the two leaders issued a joint statement saying: "We state unequivocally that any use of a nuclear weapon by Russia in Ukraine would be an act of hostility against humanity and unjustifiable in any way."

On Saturday, Kishida said the G7 summit of major industrialized nations in Hiroshima in May should demonstrate a strong will to uphold international order and rule of law after Russia's invasion of Ukraine.

Medvedev said the nuclear statement showed "paranoia" towards Russia and "betrayed the memory of hundreds of thousands of Japanese who were burned in the nuclear fire of Hiroshima and Nagasaki," a reference to the atomic bombs that the United States dropped on Japan to force its surrender at the end of World War II.

Rather than demanding U.S. repentance for this, Kishida had shown he was "just a service attendant for the Americans," he said.

11:45 a.m.: Ukrainian Energy Minister German Galushchenko said on Saturday that the coming days would be difficult on the energy front after a heavy military attack by Russia hit critical infrastructure in several regions of the country.

"Due to the shelling in the majority of the regions, emergency (power) cut-offs are being introduced. The coming days will be difficult," he wrote on Facebook.

Galushchenko said energy infrastructure in six Ukrainian regions was damaged after the attacks.

DTEK, Ukraine's largest private energy company, said two of its thermal power stations were hit in Saturday's strikes. One station stopped producing electricity.

Government officials have previously said that about 40% of Ukraine's energy system has been damaged following three months of missile and drone attacks on the country's energy infrastructure.

Kyrylo Tymoshenko, deputy head of the president's office, said that more than 300,000 generators were delivered to Ukraine in December as the country battles to survive the cold winter months despite the damage to power infrastructure, Reuters reports.

11:05 a.m.: Ukraine shot down 21 out of 33 incoming missiles fired by Russia at targets across the country on Saturday, Ukraine's top commander Valeriy Zaluzhnyi said on Telegram.

Reuters reports Zaluzhnyi saying Ukraine shot down 18 of 28 inbound cruise missiles and three out of five guided air-to-surface missiles.

10:40 a.m.: A Russian strike hit a nine-story residential building in Dnipro Saturday, injuring 18 people, including two children, Dnipropetrovsk Oblast Governor Valentyn Reznichenko reported.

Reznichenko said there are still people under the rubble. First responders are working on the site.

15 people were evacuated from the building, according to Kyrylo Tymoshenko, deputy head of the President’s Office, the Kyiv Independent reports.

9:55 a.m.: Russian missiles struck critical infrastructure facilities on Saturday in Ukraine's Kharkiv and Lviv regions in the country's east and west respectively, local officials said.

The mayor of the Ukrainian capital Kyiv said explosions could be heard in the city, and that air defenses were engaging targets, Reuters reports.

9:20 a.m. British Prime Minister Rishi Sunak has indicated that his country would send Ukraine some of its main battle tanks, the Challenger 2, along with additional artillery support. Sunak discussed this during a phone call on Saturday with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy.

Sunak's office has previously said Britain would co-ordinate its support with allies after Germany, France and the United States all indicated last week they would provide armored vehicles to Ukraine.

"The prime minister outlined the UK’s ambition to intensify our support to Ukraine, including through the provision of Challenger 2 tanks and additional artillery systems," a spokesperson for Sunak said.

"They agreed on the need to seize on this moment with an acceleration of global military and diplomatic support to Ukraine."

Sunak's office said further details would be provided shortly, Reuters reports.

The Challenger 2 is a battle tank designed to attack other tanks and has been in service with the British Army since 1994. It has been deployed in Bosnia and Herzegovina, Kosovo and Iraq, according to the army.

"The prime minister and President Zelenskyy welcomed other international commitments in this vein, including Poland’s offer to provide a company of Leopard tanks," Sunak's spokesperson said.

Andriy Yermak, head of the Ukrainian president's staff, thanked Britain for the new defense package.

9:05 a.m.: German Chancellor Olaf Scholz is under pressure to approve an increase in international military support for Kyiv by allowing the export of Leopard 2 battle tanks to Ukraine.

Germany has resisted such a move so far, saying Western tanks should only be supplied to Ukraine if there is agreement among Kyiv's main allies, particularly the United States.

Western officials want to strike a balance between ensuring Ukraine can defend itself and not supplying arms that could encourage Kyiv to make attacks on Russia or draw NATO into conflict with Moscow. They also fear that during battle advanced armament technology could fall in the hands of the enemy, Reuters reports.

The Leopard 2 is one of the most widely used Western tanks. But in general, three decades after the end of the Cold War, tanks and other heavy weapons are in scarce supply in most of the West. Many countries drastically reduced their armies after the fall of communism.

The tank weighs more than 60 tons, has a 120mm smoothbore gun and can hit targets at a distance of up to five km.

Even if production were ramped up, experts say it could take at least two years for the first new tanks to leave the factory.

8:30 a.m.: Turkey said Saturday it was ready to push for local ceasefires in Ukraine and warned that neither Moscow nor Kyiv had the military means to "win the war militarily on the ground".

President Recep Tayyip Erdogan's foreign policy adviser Ibrahim Kalin said it seemed unlikely that the warring sides were ready to strike an "overarching peace deal" in the coming months.

But he said that the brutal cost of fighting might soon see them reconsider and accept localized truces in specific parts of the war zone.

"Turkey is willing to push for local ceasefires and small localized de-escalations," Kalin told reporters.

NATO member Turkey hosted two early rounds of peace talks and helped strike a UN-backed agreement restoring Ukrainian grain deliveries across the Black Sea, AFP reports.

8:15 a.m.: Japanese Prime Minister Fumio KIshida after meeting U.S. President Joe Biden in Washington on Friday, stressed the importance of standing up to Russia's invasion, saying that if a unilateral change to the status quo went unchallenged, the same would happen elsewhere, including in Asia - an apparent reference to China's vow to reunite with self-ruled Taiwan, by force if necessary, Reuters reports.

7:45 a.m.: Air raid sirens blared across most of Ukraine on Saturday. Officials told residents to take shelter from a possible Russian air attack.

The regional governor of Mykolaiv, Vitaliy Kim, said Russian missiles had already been spotted flying in Ukraine's south and that air defenses were working, Reuters reports.

5:09 a.m.: The Institute for the Study of War, a U.S. think tank, said in its latest Ukraine assessment that Russian forces conducted limited counterattacks along the Svatove-Kreminna line while Ukrainian forces reportedly continued counteroffensive operations near Kreminna. Russian forces continued offensive operations around Soledar, Bakhmut, and Avdiivka. Ukrainian partisan attacks, meanwhile, continue to divert Russian resources away from the frontline to rear areas in occupied territories.

4:13 a.m.: Russia's continued blocking of Ukraine's Black Sea ports and deliberate slowdown of ship inspections are delaying crucial grain shipments around the world, U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations, Linda Thomas-Greenfield, said Friday, The Kyiv Independent reported.

Following Russia's Black Sea blockade of Ukraine's ports in the early days of the full-scale invasion, a U.N-backed deal in July allowed grain shipments to partially resume from some ports.

Since then, Russia has been accused of deliberately holding up inspections to slow grain shipments in an effort to discredit the Black Sea Grain Initiative. Russia has also falsely alleged that grain shipments have not made it to countries that need it most.

According to Greenfield, Russia’s attacks and continued blocking of some Ukrainian ports have decreased Ukraine’s food exports by about 30%.

"Here’s the truth: The Initiative’s operations are not keeping pace with the strong global demand for Black Sea grain. Due to Russia’s deliberate slowdown of inspections, dozens of ships are waiting to depart. And dozens more are waiting for inspections before they can bring their grain cargo to the world," Greenfield said.

3:31 a.m.: The latest intelligence update from the U.K. defense ministry said Russia has deployed 10 vessels from its Black Sea Fleet, likely in response to what Russia perceives is a threat to Novorossiysk. "It is unlikely that the deployment signifies preparation for unusual maritime-launched cruise-missile strikes," the update said. "It is highly unlikely that the fleet is preparing for amphibious assault operations."

2:08 a.m.: The French and German foreign ministers called Friday on Africa to condemn Russian aggression in Ukraine, while pressing for deeper ties between the European Union and countries across the continent, Agence France-Presse reported.

"We have common interests and we have expectations of our African friends," French minister Catherine Colonna told a press briefing at the African Union headquarters in Addis Ababa.

The call was echoed by her German counterpart Annalena Baerbock who said that peace in Europe was under attack.

"We need you, we need Africa to defend peace," Baerbock said.

Ukraine and Russia are major suppliers of wheat and other cereals to Africa, and the war's impact has been felt across the continent with sharp increases in the price of fuel, grain and fertilizer.

But many African nations have shown a reluctance to condemn Russia's invasion.

1:09 a.m.:

12:02 a.m.: Shakhtar Donetsk and eight Russian soccer clubs lost their appeals Friday against FIFA emergency transfer rules that let foreign players and coaches suspend their contracts during Russia's invasion of Ukraine, The Associated Press reported.

In separate rulings by the Court of Arbitration for Sport, Ukraine's Shakhtar had its appeal dismissed in a case heard in December which sought $42 million compensation from FIFA.

The Russian clubs, led by champion Zenit St. Petersburg, faced FIFA in November at sport's highest court. Two of the three judges who ruled in that case also heard the Shakhtar appeal.

Both appeals challenged a FIFA decision last June to extend emergency transfer rules for the entire 2022-23 season that were first applied last March for the rest of that season.

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

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