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Latest Developments in Ukraine: Jan. 15


Emergency personnel evacuate a woman at the site where an apartment block was heavily damaged by a Russian missile strike in Dnipro, Ukraine, Jan. 15, 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.:

10 p.m.: Thousands of Russians and Ukrainians fled their countries last year following Russia's invasion of Ukraine for the Indonesian province of Bali. The New York Times reported that on the island paradise some Ukrainians have befriended Russians, who left to avoid being drafted into military service or because they protested the war and feared being arrested. But for some of the Ukrainians, just seeing Russians is a painful reminder of what's happening back home.

9:00 p.m.: Belarus said Sunday it will begin air force drills with Russia on Monday, but the exercises are defensive in nature, Reuters reported.

The move comes as concerns grow that Moscow is pushing Minsk to join the war in Ukraine.

The first deputy state secretary of Belarusian Security Council posted on the Belarusian defense ministry's Telegram app that the exercises, which will last until Feb. 1, will involve training for "aerial reconnaissance, deflecting air strikes, air cover of important objects and communications".

The ongoing buildup of Russian troops in Belarus, combined with a flurry of military activity in the country, is an echo to what was happening there just before Russia's February 24 invasion of Ukraine when Moscow used the country as a springboard to launch the attack.

7:45 p.m.:

5:27 p.m.: Ukraine’s energy grid is facing a “huge” power generation deficit following Russia’s January 14 mass attack, Serhiy Kovalenko, the CEO of energy supplier Yasno, said Sunday, The Kyiv Independent reports.

There has been significant damage to Ukraine’s thermal energy generation, he said.

Kovalenko said Ukraine’s state grid operator has decided to significantly limit energy consumption across Ukraine, including in Kyiv. He did not provide any details.

“It is still too early to forecast the period for a repair,” he said. “All power engineers are working to restore production, but you need to be prepared that power outages can be long-term.”

President Volodymyr Zelenskyy noted that Kyiv and Kharkiv oblasts have been the most impacted by Russia’s mass attack against Ukraine’s energy infrastructure on January 14.

“Repair crews are doing everything possible to restore electricity generation and supply as soon as possible, and work will continue around the clock,” Zelenskyy said.

4:30 p.m.:

3:52 p.m.:

3:11 p.m.: In his nightly video address, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy described the mayhem in Dnipro in eastern Ukraine after a missile slammed into a nine-story apartment building killing over 30 people, including a 15-year-old girl. He said recovery operations are ongoing.

Zelenskyy also announced sanctions against Russians and others “who help terror.”

“Almost 200 - this list is carefully prepared, and behind each name there is a responsible motivation. Those who justify terror. Those who grease the Russian propaganda machine. Those who tried to sell [out] Ukraine somewhere in Moscow. This public will face a full list of personal restrictions. We will do everything to make the sanctions work on the largest possible scale — in Europe, in the world,” he said.

The Ukrainian leader said everyone responsible will be held accountable. “Both those who kill and those who help to kill,” he added.

2:45 p.m.: Vitalii, a 34-year-old long-range anti-aircraft missile commander, was severely wounded in the Donbas region of eastern Ukraine that has become synonymous with horrific losses in ongoing fighting for both Ukraine and Russia. Quite how deadly isn't known — because neither side is saying. From the stream of wounded soldiers that are coming off frontlines to hospitals like the one where Vitalii lies, it's evident the costs are severe, The Associated Press reported.

Both sides have poured troops and resources to capture or defend Donbas strongholds, fighting over months of grinding, attritional combat to what has largely become a bloody stalemate. Russian President Vladimir Putin is trying to score localized success in the Donbas, even if that just means taking control of a town or two pounded into rubble. Ukraine wants to make Russia's advances as costly as possible.

The Donbas towns of Bakhmut and Soledar have been turned into hellscapes as a result. Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy described them as “completely destroyed,” strewn with corpses and craters, and with “almost no life left.”

“This is what madness looks like," Zelenskyy said.

Vitalii was wounded on August 25 on another section of the Donbas frontline, in Adviivka, about 70 kilometers (45 miles) south of Bakhmut. The shell that struck his dugout set off other explosives. The blast tore a crater in Vitalii's skull that is as deep and broad as half a melon. His brain injuries were so severe that doctors doubted he'd show signs of consciousness again.

Now, Vitalii sometimes seems aware of his surroundings. He blinks. He can swallow. But he’s largely immobile.

2:15 p.m.: NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg said Ukraine could expect more heavy weapons after Kyiv pleaded for more vehicles, artillery and missiles it says are key to defending itself.

"The recent pledges for heavy warfare equipment are important — and I expect more in the near future," Stoltenberg told Germany's Handelsblatt daily, ahead of a meeting this week of a group that coordinates arms supplies to Kyiv, Agence France-Presse reported.

1:05 p.m.: Thirty people are confirmed dead so far as a result of a Russian missile attack on a nine-story apartment building in Dnipro. According to the regional governor's adviser, Natalia Babachenko, 30 to 40 people could still be trapped under debris, Reuters reports.

CNN reporters on the scene describe cranes continuing to work on removing the hundreds of tons of debris.

Smoke is still rising from within the building that was leveled. On either side of it, concrete sheets hang precariously from adjacent blocks.

Emergency workers clear the rubble after a Russian rocket hit a multistory building leaving many people under debris in the southeastern city of Dnipro, Ukraine, Jan. 14, 2023.
Emergency workers clear the rubble after a Russian rocket hit a multistory building leaving many people under debris in the southeastern city of Dnipro, Ukraine, Jan. 14, 2023.

The missile appears to have struck vertically, as there is little damage in the surrounding area.

The operation appears to be shifting toward recovery as of about 7 p.m. local time (noon ET), some 30 hours after the missile struck.

There are still dozens of emergency service workers at the scene, but the cold temperatures and massive twisted steel and concrete wreckage of the building suggests that hopes of finding anyone else alive are diminishing.

Behind a cordon across the street, dozens of people watch the operation in silence.

Some people are still unaccounted for, according to Ukrainian officials.

12:35 p.m.: Belarus' Security Council said on Sunday that joint air force drills with Russia, due to start next week, were purely defensive in nature and would focus on reconnaissance missions and how to thwart a potential attack, the RIA Novosti news agency reported.

Minsk also said it was "ready" for any "provocative actions" by Ukraine, as a flurry of military activity in the country has triggered fresh fears in Kyiv and the West that Russia could be preparing to use its ally — which acted as a springboard for Russia's invasion last February — to mount a new ground offensive on Ukraine, Reuters reported.

12:20 p.m.:

12:15 p.m.: Russian forces shelled Kherson hospital, Sunday. The building was damaged, but no casualties were reported, Kherson Oblast Governor Yaroslav Yanushevych said on Telegram.

Ukrainian forces liberated Kherson and the western bank of the Dnipro River in Kherson Oblast on November 11 after eight months of Russian occupation.

Since then, the Russian army has been shelling the Ukrainian-held part of Kherson Oblast nearly daily, The Kyiv Independent reported.

11:46 a.m.: Moldovan authorities say specialist teams have carried out “controlled detonations” of explosives that were discovered in parts of rocket debris found in a village near the country's border with Ukraine.

According to The Associated Press, Moldova’s Ministry of Internal Affairs said in a statement that an on-site investigation turned up about 80 kilograms of explosives in the remains of the rocket discovered Saturday in the Briceni district village of Larga. Photographs posted on the ministry’s Facebook page Sunday show what appears to be a large cylindrical object loaded with white powder. The ministry has not said when the rocket was fired or who fired it but said it originated “from Russia’s air attacks on Ukraine.”

11:24 a.m.: Russia is transitioning to a wartime economy in preparation for a long war, Ukrainian intelligence posted on Telegram.

“[President Vladimir] Putin’s measures to reorganize the economy and military-industrial complex of the Russian Federation indicate preparations for the transfer of Russia to martial law. They are aimed at strengthening the potential of the Russian Armed Forces and creating conditions for operations that were planned at the very beginning of the war, but not implemented successfully by the Russian occupation forces.

The attempts of the occupying country to attract all military resources to continue the war in Ukraine and the recent appointment of the Chief of the General Staff of the Russian Armed Forces Valery Gerasimov as the new commander of the occupation troops testify not only to the military failures of Russia, but also to the preparation of the Russian Federation for the continuation of a large-scale long-term war,” Ukraine's defense intelligence directorate wrote.

According to Euromaidan Press, indications that Russia is moving to a war-time economy appeared on October 25, when President Vladimir Putin moved Russia into a regime of “unprecedented restrictions.”

The precise figures became clear in November, when the 2023 budget revealed that the aggressor country will allocate a third of all expenditures to finance the army thrown into the war with Ukraine, as well as internal security structures, which will have to ensure the “stability” of the regime under conditions of mobilization and falling standards of living.

10:57 a.m.: Three people were killed and 15 injured by an ammunition explosion caused by "careless" handling of a grenade in Russia's Belgorod region on the border with Ukraine, Russian news agencies reported Sunday.

Reuters reported that Russian state news agencies cited local emergency services for the toll saying the blast occurred in a cultural center turned ammunition storage facility for Russian armed forces.

Belgorod region borders Ukraine and is the location of several Russian military bases and training grounds.

The 112 and Baza Telegram channels, linked to Russia's law enforcement agencies, said the dead and injured were conscripts drafted in Ukraine under a mobilization drive.

They reported that the blast occurred after a senior soldier mishandled a grenade in front of subordinates, accidentally detonating it. TASS said "careless handling of ammunition" caused the explosion.

10:17 a.m.:

9:58 a.m.:

9:27 a.m.: German arms maker Rheinmetall could deliver repaired Leopard 2 battle tanks to Ukraine in 2024 at the earliest and would need a confirmed order to begin repairs, its chief executive was quoted as saying by Bild newspaper on Sunday.

Germany announced earlier this month that it would provide Ukraine with 40 Marder infantry fighting vehicles to help repel Russian forces.

But Kyiv has also requested heavier vehicles such as the Leopards, which would represent a significant step-up in Western support to Ukraine. The German army has only around 350 Leopard 2 tanks today, compared to some 4,000 battle main tanks at the height of the Cold War.

According to Bild, repairing the tanks the German arms maker has in stock — at least 22 Leopard 2 tanks and 88 Leopard 1 tanks — would cost several hundred million euros.

"The vehicles must be completely dismantled and rebuilt," he added.

Germany has become one of Ukraine's top military supporters in response to Russia's invasion after last year, overcoming a taboo that is rooted in its bloody 20th century history on sending weapons to conflict zones.

Still, critics say German Chancellor Olaf Scholz and his ruling SPD are too slow to act, waiting for allies’ inititiave instead of assuming Germany's responsibility as the Western power closest to Ukraine.

Germany's defense industry is banned by law from producing tanks for stock-keeping. Even if production were ramped up, experts say it could take at least two years for new tanks to be ready for use.

8:43 a.m.: Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy wants to visit the United Nations to address a high-level meeting of the 193-member General Assembly on the eve of the first anniversary of Russia’s February 24 invasion of his country if the security situation permits, a senior Foreign Ministry official said.

First Deputy Foreign Minister Emine Dzhaparova cautioned in an interview with The Associated Press that many factors need to be in place for him to come, citing first and foremost the military situation on the ground and a warning from Ukraine’s intelligence service that Russia is planning “a very serious offensive in February.”

“Our president would want to come, he has a will or intention to come,” she said, “but it’s still a question if there will be a security situation that will allow him to come,” she said.

8:18 a.m.: The chances are "minimal" of pulling more survivors from the wreckage of an apartment building in the Ukrainian city of Dnipro that was hit by a Russian missile strike on Saturday, the city's mayor told Reuters in an interview on Sunday.

"As of 11:00, 21 people are dead, but 40 are missing," said Borys Filatov.

"May God help us find several of them. I think the number of dead will be in the dozens."

A woman reacts while talking on a phone at the site where an apartment block was heavily damaged by a Russian missile strike in Dnipro, Ukraine, Jan. 15, 2023.
A woman reacts while talking on a phone at the site where an apartment block was heavily damaged by a Russian missile strike in Dnipro, Ukraine, Jan. 15, 2023.

The Dnipro City Council reported after Filatov made his comments that the death toll had risen to 23, while 43 people had been reported missing.

The building was hit during massive Russian strikes on Ukraine on Saturday, the latest of missile attacks in recent months on critical infrastructure that have plunged the country into darkness and killed civilians.

Emergency personnel work at the site where an apartment block was heavily damaged by a Russian missile strike in Dnipro, Ukraine, Jan. 15, 2023.
Emergency personnel work at the site where an apartment block was heavily damaged by a Russian missile strike in Dnipro, Ukraine, Jan. 15, 2023.

As Filatov spoke, rescue workers were digging through smashed concrete and twisted metal from a portion of the building. He said 72 apartments had been destroyed.

Filatov said he believed the missile, which he described as an "absolutely inaccurate" X-22, was likely aimed at a power station nearby.

7:45 a.m.: Russian President Vladimir Putin said that the military operation in Ukraine had gained positive momentum and that he hoped his soldiers would deliver more wins after Russia claimed control of the eastern Ukrainian salt-mining town of Soledar, Reuters reported.

Russia claimed Friday that it has captured Soledar. "The dynamic is positive," Putin told Rossiya 1 state television when asked about the taking of Soledar. "Everything is developing within the framework of the plan of the Ministry of Defense and the General Staff."

"And I hope that our fighters will please us even more with the results of their combat," Putin said.

Ukraine claimed Saturday that its forces were still fighting to retain control of Soledar. The Washington-based Institute for the study of War said it was highly unlikely that Ukrainian forces still held positions within Soledar itself.

Reuters could not immediately verify the situation in Soledar.

Putin casts the war in Ukraine as an existential battle with an aggressive and arrogant West and has said that Russia will use all available means to protect itself and its people against any aggressor.

The United States and its allies have condemned Russia's invasion of Ukraine as an imperial land grab, while Ukraine has vowed to fight until the last Russian soldier is ejected from its territory.

5:14 a.m.: The Institute for the Study of War, a U.S. think tank, said in its latest Ukraine assessment that Russian forces continued limited counterattacks along the Svatove-Kreminna line. Russian forces also continued offensive operations around Soledar, as well as in the Bakhmut and Avdiivka areas.

Ukrainian forces are highly unlikely to still hold positions within the settlement of Soledar itself, the assessment said.

Russian forces continued defensive operations and reinforced frontlines positions on the east bank of the Dnipro River in Kherson Oblast.

4:26 a.m.: Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy wants to visit the United Nations to address a high-level meeting of the 193-member General Assembly on the eve of the first anniversary of Russia's February 24 invasion of his country if the security situation permits, a senior Foreign Ministry official said.

First Deputy Foreign Minister Emine Dzhaparova cautioned in an interview Friday with The Associated Press that many factors need to be in place for him to come, citing first and foremost the military situation on the ground and a warning from Ukraine's intelligence service that Russia is planning "a very serious offensive in February."

"Our president would want to come, he has a will or intention to come," she said, "but it's still a question if there will be a security situation that will allow him to come."

3:10 a.m.: The latest intelligence update from the U.K. defense ministry said Russia may raise the upper end of its age range for military conscription from 27 to 30. The change would kick in in time for the spring draft. The move could help Russia meet its goal of boosting its forces by 30%.

2:16 a.m.: European countries will eventually resume higher imports of Russian gas, Qatar's energy minister and gas company CEO predicted Saturday, Agence France-Presse reported.

Russian gas exports to Europe plunged after Moscow's invasion of Ukraine, but Saad Sherida al-Kaabi, head of QatarEnergy, said the situation could change in the future.

"We're all blessed to have to be able to forget and to forgive. And I think things get mended with time ... they learn from that situation and probably have a much bigger diversity," he told the Global Energy Forum in Abu Dhabi. "But Russian gas is going back, in my view, to Europe."

Gas exports by Russian energy giant Gazprom to the European Union and Switzerland fell by 55%, the company said this month.

Europe was previously Gazprom's main export market, but supplies were drastically reduced because of sanctions following Russia's invasion of Ukraine last February.

1:17 a.m.: Retired U.S. General Ben Hodges commanded U.S. Army forces in Europe from 2014 and 2017. He is currently the Pershing chair in strategic studies at the Center for European Policy Analysis.

In an interview with RFE/RL's Georgian Service, Hodges discussed the Russian military operation's lack of coherence and how new fighting vehicles and tanks from abroad could change the course of the war.

12:02 a.m.: Germany on Saturday inaugurated its second liquefied natural gas terminal, part of a drive by Europe's biggest economy to put reliance on Russian energy sources firmly behind it, The Associated Press reported.

Chancellor Olaf Scholz took part in the ceremony in Lubmin on the Baltic Sea coast, which came less than a month after he inaugurated Germany's first LNG terminal at Wilhelmshaven on the North Sea. Several more are expected to go online in the coming months, including another in Lubmin.

The terminals are part of an effort to prevent an energy crunch that also includes temporarily reactivating old oil- and coal-fired power stations and extending the life of Germany's last three nuclear power plants, which were supposed to be switched off at the end of 2022, until mid-April.

Days after Russia invaded Ukraine in February, Scholz announced that his government had decided to build the first LNG terminals.

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

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