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Latest Developments in Ukraine: Jan. 22

Ukrainian soldiers take part in military drills in Ukraine's eastern Donetsk region, Jan. 21, 2023, amid Russia's invasion of its neighbor.

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

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

11:30 p.m.:

10:30 p.m.: A Russian warship armed with new-generation hypersonic cruise weapons will participate in joint exercises with the navies of China and South Africa in February, Reuters cited the Russian state agency, TASS, as saying on Monday.

It was the first official mention of the participation by the frigate, "Admiral of the Fleet of the Soviet Union Gorshkov," which is armed with Zircon missiles.

The missiles fly at nine times the speed of sound, with a range of more than 1,000 km (620 miles), Russia says. They form the centerpiece of its hypersonic arsenal, along with the Avangard glide vehicle that entered combat duty in 2019.

"'Admiral Gorshkov' ... will go to the logistic support point in Syria's Tartus, and then take part in joint naval exercises with the Chinese and South African navies," the agency said, citing an unidentified defense source.

On Thursday, the South African National Defense Force said the drills, to run from February 17 to February 27 near the port city of Durban and Richards Bay, aim "to strengthen the already flourishing relations between South Africa, Russia and China."

The exercise will be the second involving the three countries in South Africa, after a drill in 2019, the defense force added in its statement.

The "Gorshkov" held exercises in the Norwegian Sea this month after President Vladimir Putin sent it to the Atlantic Ocean in a signal to the West that Russia would not back down over the war in Ukraine.

9:45 p.m.:

9:20 p.m.: Russian mercenary boss Yevgeny Prigozhin responded to comparisons between himself and the monk Rasputin who treated the son of the last tsar for haemophilia, saying on Sunday his job was not to staunch bleeding but to spill the blood of Russia's enemies, Reuters reported.

The Financial Times newspaper said at the weekend that Prigozhin had growing influence on the Kremlin and likened him to Orthodox monk Grigory Rasputin, who had considerable influence on the wife of Russia's last tsar, Nikolai II.

"I am not very familiar with the history of Rasputin, but as far as I know, an important quality of Rasputin is that he staunched the blood flow of the young prince with incantations," Prigozhin's press service quoted him as saying, referring to the article.

"Unfortunately, I do not staunch blood flow. I bleed the enemies of our motherland. And not by incantations, but by direct contact with them.

8:35 p.m.: Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy promised Sunday he would continue to root out corruption in Ukraine's government, Reuters reported.

The pledge came amidst allegations of senior-level corruption, including a report of dubious practices in military procurement despite officials promoting national unity to confront the invasion, Reuters said.

"I want this to be clear: there will be no return to what used to be in the past, to the way various people close to state institutions or those who spent their entire lives chasing a chair used to live," Zelenskyy said in his nightly video address.

Transparency International in 2021 ranked Ukraine's corruption at 122 out of 180 countries.

7:00 p.m.: The German government will not object if Poland decides to send Leopard 2 battle tanks to Ukraine, Germany's top diplomat, The Associated Press reports. The statement suggests movement on supplying weapons that Kyiv has described as essential to its ability to fend off an intensified Russian offensive.

German Foreign Minister Annalena Baerbock told French TV channel LCI that Poland has not formally asked for Berlin's approval to share some of its German-made Leopards but added "if we were asked, we would not stand in the way."

German officials "know how important these tanks are" and "this is why we are discussing this now with our partners," Baerbock said in interview clips posted by LCI.

5:30 p.m.: The fear of a fresh military mobilization by Moscow to support its war in Ukraine has prompted many Kyrgyz workers in Russia to return to their home country. But some of the workers who have got Russian passports, and are eligible for the military draft, say they have been prevented from leaving Russia in recent weeks, Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty reports.

4:35 p.m.: A group of youngsters from Ukraine calling themselves Light Balance Kids, danced themselves to the finals of America's Got Talent. They received the “Golden Buzzer” for an inventive dance celebrating Ukraine's unity and projecting light against the darkness of Russia's invasion of their homeland.

4:25 p.m.: New German Defense Minister Boris Pistorius said on Sunday that he expected a decision soon on the delivery of Leopard 2 battle tanks to Ukraine, whichever way it may go, Reuters reports.

Speaking in an interview on Germany's ARD TV, Pistorius said that Germany would not make a hasty decision because the government had many factors to consider, including consequences at home for the security of the German population.

4:15 p.m.: With Germany continuing to hold up the supply to Ukraine of critical Leopard 2 battle tanks, activists on social media have gotten creative in calling on Chancellor Olaf Scholz to release them.

3:45 p.m.:

3:12 p.m.:

1:57 p.m.: During a summit with German Chancellor Olaf Scholz, outside Paris, Sunday, French President Emmanuel Macron said he does not rule out the possibility of sending Leclerc tanks to Ukraine.

Macron told a news conference that sending tanks must not escalate the situation, must take into account the time to train Ukrainians to be effective, and must not endanger France's own security.

"Regarding the Leclercs, I asked the Army minister to work on it, but nothing has been ruled out," Macron said, adding that the move would have to be coordinated with allies such as Germany in the coming days and weeks, USNews reports.

Scholz didn't comment on whether Germany would agree to provide its Leopard 2 tanks.

12:45 p.m.: Adam Kalinin — not his real name — decided to go off the grid and live in the forest after Vladimir Putin announced a mobilization of Russian men last September.

Kalinin uses an antenna tied to a tree for internet access and solar panels for energy.

He has endured temperatures as low as -11C (12F) and sustains himself with food supplies brought to him regularly by his wife.

Living off-grid, he says, is the best way he can think of to avoid being called up. If the authorities can't hand him a summons in person, he can't be forced to go to war.

"If they are physically unable to take me by the hands and lead me to the enlistment office, that is a 99% defense against mobilization or other harassment," he told the BBC.

12:15 p.m.: An elderly woman was killed by Russian shelling Sunday, in a village close to the Russian border, Kharkiv Oblast Governor Oleh Syniehubov said in a Telegram post.

Some 50 kilometers further east, a man was wounded in the town of Vovchansk, where Russian forces struck upon a five-story residential building and a house, Syniehubov added. The injured man was hospitalized, but his condition is stable, according to the official.

“Occupiers continue to terrorize the civilian population of Kharkiv Oblast,” Syniehubov said.

According to the official, Russian forces also used tanks to fire at a cemetery in another village near the Russian border, damaging graves.

While Ukraine liberated the northeastern Kharkiv Oblast in fall during its surprise counteroffensive campaign, areas near the Russian border and those close to the front line continue to be struck by Russian shelling, The Kyiv Independent reported.

11:32 a.m.: Michael McCaul, the newly installed Republican chairman of the House Foreign Affairs Committee, told ABC's "This Week" that if the U.S. offers even a symbolic number of its heavy battle tanks Abrams to Ukraine, it will encourage Germany to send their Leopard 2 as well, Reuters reported.

"Just one" Abrams tank would be enough to prompt allies, notably Germany, to unlock their own tank inventories for the fight against Russia.

"Even saying that we're going to put Abrams tanks in would be enough," he added.

Ukrainian officials have been calling on Western allies for months to supply them with modern tanks as the country fights against a full-scale Russian invasion.

Democratic Senator Chris Coons told ABC that it was time to set aside U.S. concerns about delivering the Abrams.

"I respect that our military leaders think the Abrams is too sophisticated, too expensive a platform to be as useful as the Leopards, but we need to continue to work with our close allies and move forward in lock step."

10:55 a.m.:

10:52 a.m.:

10:17 a.m.: Russian forces have captured Soledar although Ukraine's leadership is still reluctant to acknowledge the loss of the industrial town. However, according to international monitors as well as sources used by The Kyiv Independent, Ukraine doesn’t control the town.

As a result of a localized offensive operation in January, Russian forces managed to weaken Ukrainian defenses and seize the town, the first noticeable Russian success since their forces captured Sievierodonetsk and Lysychansk after fierce fighting in June and July.

It is also a massive vanity project for Yevgeniy Prigozhyn, the Kremlin insider in charge of the notorious Wagner Group, who claimed credit for the victory. It also bolsters Putin’s Russian war propaganda.

According to The Kyiv Independent, the loss of Soledar is largely the result of relentless human wave attacks exhausting Ukrainian defenses, as well as of crushing knockout blows by regular forces. The setback also indicates long-lasting Ukrainian issues with chaotic command and control and also the lack of centralized approach and coordination in the area.

Ukrainian servicemen fire a mortar toward Russian positions on a frontline near the town of Soledar in Donetsk region, Ukraine, Jan. 14, 2023.
Ukrainian servicemen fire a mortar toward Russian positions on a frontline near the town of Soledar in Donetsk region, Ukraine, Jan. 14, 2023.

The lack of artillery and munitions to cope with endless and massive Russian frontal assaults has also played its role – it’s given Russian forces a window of opportunity for a resolute strike.

But despite the Russian propaganda presenting the capture of Soledar as a major victory, it’s only of tactical significance so far. Russia continues with its attempts to build on the progress and sever the ground lines communications thanks to which Bakhmut keeps holding on.

9:13 a.m.: In a surprise visit to Kyiv Sunday, Former British Prime Minister Boris Johnson met with President Volodymyr Zelenskiy and pledged that Britain would "stick by Ukraine as long as it takes."

Johnson, who left office in September, after a series of scandals, was prime minister when Russia invaded Ukraine last February and he sought to position London as Kyiv's top ally in the West.

During his trip, Johnson visited Borodyanka and Bucha, the suburbs of the Ukrainian capital that became synonymous with atrocities in the West when Russian forces advanced towards Kyiv in the first phase of the invasion before being repelled.

8:32 a.m.: Russia's defense ministry said for the second straight day on Sunday that its forces were improving their positions in Ukraine's southern Zaporizhzhia region.

"During offensive operations in the direction of Zaporizhzhia, units of the Eastern Military District took up more advantageous ground and positions," the defense ministry said.

It claimed to have inflicted casualties and destroyed equipment including Ukrainian fighting vehicles, howitzers and two U.S.-made HIMARS rockets.

Reuters was not able to independently verify Russia's battlefield accounts. Ukraine on Saturday countered Russia's claims of progress in Zaporizhzhia saying they were exaggerated.

Fighting in recent weeks has centered around the town of Bakhmut in eastern Ukraine, where Russia's Wagner mercenaries and Ukrainian forces have been locked in a battle of attrition.

With the war now on its11th month, Ukraine has said it believes Moscow is likely to attempt a new offensive soon.

7:45 a.m.: Vyacheslav Volodin, speaker of the Duma - Russia's lower house of parliament - warned that the United States and NATO's support of Ukraine is leading the world to a "terrible war," Reuters reported.

As a member of Putin's Security Council, Volodin has access to the Russian president.

"Deliveries of offensive weapons to the Kyiv regime will lead to a global catastrophe," Volodin said.

"If Washington and NATO countries supply weapons that will be used to strike civilian cities and attempt to seize our territories, as they threaten, this will lead to retaliatory measures using more powerful weapons," Volodin said on the Telegram messaging app.

"Arguments that the nuclear powers have not previously used weapons of mass destruction in local conflicts are untenable. Because these states did not face a situation where there was a threat to the security of their citizens and the territorial integrity of the country," he continued.

Western allies pledged billions of dollars in weapons for Ukraine last week, although they failed to persuade Germany to lift a veto on providing German-made Leopard tanks which are held by a number of NATO members but whose transfer to Ukraine requires Berlin's approval.

Volodin's comments followed a similar threat last week by Dmitry Medvedev, Russia's former prime minister and president.

5:21 a.m.: The Institute for the Study of War, a U.S. think tank, said in its latest Ukraine assessment that Russian forces conducted a small ground reconnaissance into northeastern Sumy Oblast.

Additionally, Russian forces continued limited ground attacks to regain lost positions along the Svatove-Kreminna line and continued to conduct ground attacks around Bakhmut and west of Donetsk City. Russian forces are likely making incremental gains around Bakhmut.

4:19 a.m.: Germany's new defense minister, Boris Pistorius, plans to visit Ukraine soon, he told a German newspaper, as Berlin faces pressure to allow the shipment of German-made tanks to Ukraine.

"What is certain is that I will travel to Ukraine quickly. Probably even within the next four weeks," Pistorius told Bild am Sonntag in an interview published Sunday.

On Friday, Germany and Western allies reached no decision on whether Germany would agree to send Leopard 2 tanks to Ukraine, or permit other countries that have them to do so, despite Ukraine's pleas for modern tanks to boost its defense efforts.

Asked about the tanks, Pistorius said in the interview: "We are in very close dialogue with our international partners, first and foremost with the U.S., on this issue."

3:26 a.m.: The latest intelligence update from the U.K. defense ministry said Russia has announced plans to boost its armed forces by 11% between 2023 and 2026. That's on top of an expansion intended to increase its ranks to 1.35 million, meaning that the ultimate goal is to have 1.5 million personnel.

2:13 a.m.: Ukraine's western allies might bridge delays in implementing a 10-point peace plan that the country has put forward, if each country takes responsibility for one part, the Ukraine's first lady said in an interview published Saturday, Reuters reported.

Olena Zelenska told Swiss daily Neue Zuercher Zeitung quick delivery of weapons would hasten Ukraine's ability to win the war.

For Ukraine, that meant "protecting our land, our talents and our children...," she said. "The frontiers of this war are the frontiers of Ukraine."

But the peace plan introduced by her husband, President Volodymyr Zelenskyy in November at the G-20 summit/ "The plan goes beyond that," she was quoted as saying. "It also entails judicial demands such as for an international war crimes tribunal... and for prisoners of war to be able to return to Ukraine . . .

"There is a role that each country can take responsibility for."

1:09 a.m.: Japanese Prime Minister Fumio Kishida is considering visiting Kyiv in February and holding talks with Ukraine's President Volodomyr Zelenskyy, Reuters reported, citing Japanese government sources.

As chair of the Group of Seven leading economies this year, Japan wants to show it intends to keep providing support to Ukraine while it also aims to release a statement with Kyiv condemning Russia's aggression.

Kishida will make a final decision about whether to go ahead with the visit based on the state of the war in Ukraine, multiple unnamed government sources said.

Japan's foreign ministry was not immediately available to comment on the report.

12:02 a.m.: “We wanted to tell America and the whole world about what is happening in Ukraine,” said 17-year-old dancer Maria Honyukova of the Light Balance Kids dance troupe, describing the group’s recent triumph on a popular new U.S. television talent program. “And we also wanted to convey to the audience that light always wins.”

When the house lights went up after the video-game-themed number in which the performers seemed to defy the laws of physics while dancing in darkness wearing illuminated costumes, the live audience for America’s Got Talent All Stars sprang to its feet and cheered.

“It was your best performance you’ve ever done,” said competition judge and recording executive Simon Cowell. “I cannot tell you how brilliant that was.”

A moment later, fellow judge and comedian Howie Mandel lauded the kids for bringing light from “arguably the darkest place in the world” before pressing the show’s Golden Buzzer, sending them immediately to the finale.

RFE/RL’s Ukrainian Service has the report.

Some information in this report came from Reuters.