- 20 Jan 2023 - 20:11(20:11 GMT)
US charges two men in relation to Russian oligarch’s yacht
Two businessmen were charged in indictments unsealed in a US court for allegedly facilitating a sanctions evasion and money laundering scheme in relation to a $90m yacht belonging to sanctioned Russian billionaire Viktor Vekselberg.
The two businessmen – Vladislav Osipov, 51, a Russian national, and Richard Masters, 52, a UK national, – were charged with conspiracy to defraud the United States and to commit offences against the US, the US Department of Justice said in a statement.
- 20 Jan 2023 - 19:28(19:28 GMT)
Russia’s Wagner Group denies recruiting Serbs to fight in Ukraine
Russia’s Wagner paramilitary group has denied it was recruiting Serbians to fight in Ukraine, a day after activists filed criminal complaints against the organisation in Belgrade.
Among those named in the complaints were Russia’s ambassador to Serbia, Alexander Botsan-Kharchenko, and Aleksandar Vulin, the head of Serbia’s state Security and Information Agency.
“I do not recruit Serbs,” Wagner founder Yevgeny Prigozhin said in a statement, adding he had never heard of either Botsan-Kharchenko or Vulin.
Earlier this week, Serbian President Aleksandar Vucic said Russia should halt its efforts to recruit Serbians to fight alongside Wagner forces. He said Russian websites and social media groups were publishing advertisements in the Serbian language in which the Wagner Group called for volunteers.
- 20 Jan 2023 - 18:55(18:55 GMT)
US designates Wagner Group a ‘criminal organisation’
The US has designated Russia’s Wagner Group as a “transnational criminal organisation”, raising pressure on the private Russian army fighting in Ukraine.
Wagner “is a criminal organisation that is committing widespread atrocities and human rights abuses,” White House national security spokesperson John Kirby said.
The White House also released images of Russia taking delivery of an arms shipment from North Korea that it said was intended to help bolster Wagner forces as they fight side-by-side with Russian troops in Ukraine.
“These actions recognise the transcontinental threat that Wagner poses, including through its ongoing pattern of serious criminal activity with these actions and there’ll be more to come,” Kirby said.
- 20 Jan 2023 - 18:23(18:23 GMT)
Zelenskyy says Ukraine must still fight to get modern tanks
Ukraine will still have to fight to ensure a supply of modern heavy armour, Zelenskyy said after allied nations failed to agree on whether to hand over German-made Leopard battle tanks.
“Every day, we make it more obvious that there is no alternative to taking a decision about tanks,” he said in an evening video address.
- 20 Jan 2023 - 17:41(17:41 GMT)
NATO’s Bauer says countries must make own decisions on giving Ukraine tanks
The head of NATO’s Military Committee, Admiral Rob Bauer, said any decision to supply tanks to Ukraine must be taken by each nation supporting the country’s efforts to fend off Russia’s invasion.
“It is a sovereign decision by a sovereign state, which Germany is,” he told a news conference in Lisbon. “It is important that Ukraine wins this war … we need to seriously look at what Ukraine requires and if possible give them what they ask for,” he said, adding that had to be done in a timely fashion.
No decision on supplying German-made Leopard 2 tanks to Ukraine was reached at the meeting of allies at Germany’s Ramstein Air Base, Poland’s defence minister said, though he remained optimistic that efforts to provide them would end in success.
- 20 Jan 2023 - 17:25(17:25 GMT)
‘Very difficult’ to eject Russian forces this year, US general says
US General Mark Milley has expressed strong doubt that Ukraine would succeed in driving Russian troops out of its territory this year.
In Germany, Milley told reporters: “From a military standpoint, I still maintain that for this year it would be very, very difficult to militarily eject the Russian forces from all, every inch of … Russian-occupied Ukraine.”
- 20 Jan 2023 - 16:55(16:55 GMT)
Kyiv will eventually receive all the weapons it needs: Ukrainian official
The head of the Ukrainian presidential staff says Kyiv will eventually receive the Western military aid it needs to defeat Russia’s invasion.
“We are getting stronger,” Andriy Yermak wrote on Telegram. “And everything that we haven’t received yet, we will receive.”
Yermak’s comment was made after Germany’s defence minister said Kyiv’s allies had not decided yet on supplying German-made Leopard 2 tanks to Ukraine.
- 20 Jan 2023 - 16:41(16:41 GMT)
US urges Kyiv to hold off on new offensive until weapons delivery
Senior US officials are urging Ukraine to hold off on launching a major offensive against Russian forces until the latest supply of weaponry is in place and training has been provided, a top Biden administration official says.
Speaking to the Reuters news agency on the condition of anonymity, the official said the US was sticking to its decision not to provide Abrams tanks to Ukraine.
- 20 Jan 2023 - 16:05(16:05 GMT)
No decision reached on tanks, Polish defence minister says
Poland’s defence minister says no decision was reached on supplying Leopard 2 tanks to Ukraine at a meeting of Kyiv’s allies at Ramstein Air Base.
But Mariusz Blaszczak said he remains optimistic that efforts to provide them would succeed.
“Hope comes from the fact that … defence ministers of 15 countries met on the sidelines of today’s conference and we talked about this topic,” Blaszczak told reporters at the US base in Germany.
“I am convinced that coalition building will end in success.”
- 20 Jan 2023 - 15:40(15:40 GMT)
Turkey repeats offer to mediate between Moscow and Kyiv
Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has repeated his offer to mediate between Russia and Ukraine in a phone call with Zelenskyy, the Turkish presidency says.
Erdogan also offered Zelenskyy his condolences after a deadly helicopter crash near Kyiv on Wednesday. Zelenskyy’s interior minister, Denys Monastyrskyy, and other government officials were among the 14 people killed.
- 20 Jan 2023 - 15:20(15:20 GMT)
The battle for Bakhmut
For months, the city of Bakhmut has witnessed some of the most intense battles in the war between Russia and Ukraine.
Last week, Russia’s military and the Wagner mercenary group said they had captured Soledar, a key town near Bakhmut. Ukraine denied the claims but said heavy fighting continued in the area.
If Russia were to take Bakhmut, it would be Moscow’s most significant victory after months of humiliating setbacks.
Read more on the fight for Bakhmut.
- 20 Jan 2023 - 15:05(15:05 GMT)
France increases military budget in light of Ukraine war
French President Emmanuel Macron says 400 billion euros ($433bn) will be allocated to the military from 2024 to 2030, up from the 295 billion euros ($320bn) budgeted from 2019 to 2025.
Macron said the 2019-2025 defence bill was meant to start building capacities back up after chronic underinvestment in the previous decades.
He said the 2024-2030 budget reflects a “transformation” programme to adapt the military to the possibility of high-intensity conflicts, made more urgent since Russia’s invasion of Ukraine
- 20 Jan 2023 - 14:41(14:41 GMT)
UN aid arrives in Donetsk for first time since war began
For the first time since Russia’s war in Ukraine began, a United Nations humanitarian convoy has arrived in the eastern region of Donetsk with aid for civilians.
The UN said its convoy arrived near the front-line town of Soledar.
Food, drinking water, medicines and other supplies were unloaded in a Ukrainian-controlled area, the UN’s Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs reported from Geneva.
“Much has been destroyed by the recent fighting in and around Soledar,” a spokesperson for the agency said. “People on the ground are in urgent need of humanitarian assistance.”
- 20 Jan 2023 - 14:17(14:17 GMT)
Germany is not alone in hesitation on tanks: Defence minister
Germany’s defence minister says Berlin is not alone among Ukraine’s allies in its concerns about the delivery of battle tanks to Kyiv.
The impression that “there is a united coalition and that Germany is standing in the way is wrong”, Boris Pistorius said.
“There are many allies who say we share the view that I have put forward here,” he said.
- 20 Jan 2023 - 14:01(14:01 GMT)
No decision on Leopard tanks yet, Germany says
Germany’s defence minister says no decision has been reached at the Ramstein meeting on whether to deliver Leopard 2 battle tanks to Ukraine.
“Today, we still cannot say when a decision will be taken and what the decision will be when it comes to the Leopard tank,” Boris Pistorius said during the conference hosted by the US at its airbase in Germany.
“There are good reasons for the deliveries, and there are good reasons against, and in view of the entire situation of a war that has been ongoing for almost one year, all pros and cons must be weighed very carefully,” he said without elaborating on the reasons.
- 20 Jan 2023 - 13:42(13:42 GMT)
Zelenskyy urges allies to speed up deliveries
Zelenskyy urges Western allies to speed up the delivery of tanks to Ukraine.
Addressing the US-hosted meeting at the Ramstein Air Base, Zelenskyy said partners needed “not to bargain about different numbers of tanks but to open that principal supply that will stop evil”.
Make the meeting a “Ramstein of tanks”, Zelenskyy said.
“It is in your power to guarantee such artillery,” he added.
- 20 Jan 2023 - 13:26(13:26 GMT)
Putin convenes Security Council to discuss Ukraine war
Putin has discussed Russia’s war in Ukraine with his Security Council, state media reports, citing the Kremlin.
According to the RIA news agency, the meeting was attended by former president Dmitry Medvedev, Security Council Secretary Nikolai Patrushev, Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov and Defence Minister Sergey Shoigu as well as other high-profile officials.
“During the meeting, there was an exchange of views on the progress of the special military operation,” RIA cited Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov as saying, using Russia’s official term for the invasion.
- 20 Jan 2023 - 13:14(13:14 GMT)
Provide ammunition for older weapons too: NATO chief
NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg said countries backing Ukraine need to focus not only on sending new weapons to Kyiv but also on providing ammunition for older systems.
“We need also to remember that we need to not only focus on new platforms but also to ensure that all the platforms which are already there can function as they should,” Stoltenberg told the Reuters news agency on the sidelines of a meeting of defence ministers on arming Ukraine.
- 20 Jan 2023 - 12:52(12:52 GMT)
Who controls what?
Here are four maps that we update daily, charting the latest war developments.
- 20 Jan 2023 - 12:34(12:34 GMT)
Some European countries ready to send tanks, EU’s chief diplomat says
The EU’s top diplomat says some European countries are prepared to send heavy tanks to Ukraine.
“This is the discussion that will take place in Ramstein today, where the EU will be represented,” Josep Borrell told reporters in Madrid. “We have to give Ukraine the arms necessary not only to repel, which is what they’re doing, but also to regain terrain.”
“I think Ukraine needs the combat arms and heavy tanks that it has asked for and some European countries are prepared to give, and I hope that is the decision that is taken,” he said.
- 20 Jan 2023 - 12:15(12:15 GMT)
Germany alarmed by Ukrainian battlefield losses in Bakhmut: Der Spiegel
Germany’s foreign intelligence service is alarmed by losses the Ukrainian army is suffering in the eastern city of Bakhmut, the German magazine Der Spiegel reported.
The Ukrainian army is losing a three-digit number of soldiers every day, the BND intelligence service told a group of Bundestag lawmakers at a secret meeting this week, Spiegel reported.
Earlier on Friday, Russian-backed forces in eastern Ukraine said that Russian troops had taken control of Klishchiivka, a small settlement south of Bakhmut.
- 20 Jan 2023 - 12:02(12:02 GMT)
Russia opens spying case against US citizen
Russia’s Federal Security Service (FSB) says it has begun an espionage case against a US citizen, but it has not named the person or said whether the suspect is in custody.
In a brief statement, the FSB said the American is “suspected of collecting intelligence information on biological topics directed against the security of the Russian Federation”.
“We are aware of these unconfirmed reports of an investigation regarding a US citizen in Russia,” US Department of State spokesperson Vedant Patel said.
“We’re looking into this matter and will continue to monitor it,” Patel said.
- 20 Jan 2023 - 11:46(11:46 GMT)
Leopard tanks the ‘million-dollar question’ at Ramstein: AJ correspondent
Al Jazeera’s Step Vaessen, reporting from the meeting of Ukraine’s allies at Ramstein Air Base in Germany, said whether Germany sends Leopard 2 tanks is currently the “million-dollar question”.
“The one key thing that Ukraine really wants and it says it needs, the Leopard 2 tanks, has not been mentioned so far as a contribution by Germany,” Vaessen said.
Germany has hesitated to send the tanks over fears they could lead to an escalation of the war and involve NATO in a direct confrontation with Russia.
“The president of Ukraine has been addressing this meeting here in Ramstein, and he made a very emotional plea,” Vaessen said. “He said time was running out, and he was pointing at the hesitation by Germany.”
- 20 Jan 2023 - 11:21(11:21 GMT)
Britain joins push to hold Russia ‘to account’ for actions in Ukraine
Britain says it has joined a group pursuing accountability for Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.
“These atrocities must not go unpunished,” British Foreign Secretary James Cleverly said in a statement, citing the deaths of soldiers and civilians and the displacement of millions of Ukrainians.
“That’s why the UK has accepted Ukraine’s invitation to join this coalition, bringing our legal expertise to the table to explore options to ensure Russia’s leaders are held to account fully for their actions.”
- 20 Jan 2023 - 11:02(11:02 GMT)
Russia’s rhetoric escalates as Ukraine’s allies talk of tanks: AJ correspondent
Al Jazeera’s Ali Hashem, reporting from Moscow, says the Kremlin’s warnings to the West have intensified as Ukraine’s allies discuss sending it more arms.
“The Kremlin has stated that the NATO summit and providing Ukraine with more weapons is going to take this conflict to another level,” Hashem said.
On Thursday, Dmitry Medvedev, deputy chairman of Russia’s Security Council, warned of a nuclear conflict if Russia loses the Ukraine war.
Russians are adopting “an escalatory narrative”, he said.
Sending more weapons in Ukraine would likely change the dynamics of the conflict, and “to them [Russia], this is really concerning,” Hashem said.
Source: Al Jazeera and news agencies