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Russia-Ukraine war live: Scholz promises further support after tank decision as Zelenskiy says he is ‘sincerely grateful’


Scholz: Germany to send further military support to Ukraine beyond 14 Leopard tanks

Germany’s chancellor, Olaf Scholz, has said his government plans to send further military support to Ukraine beyond the 14 Leopard 2A6 tanks announced earlier today.

Speaking at a press conference with the Icelandic prime minister, Katrín Jakobsdóttir, Scholz said it was the “right path” to support Kyiv with arms deliveries, especially with tanks.

He said:

Alongside the tanks that are being discussed now, we continue to intend to expand what we have delivered.

He said further arms deliveries could include air defence systems, heavy artillery and multiple rocket launchers.

Key events

Ukraine’s defence minister, Oleksii Reznikov, said he has spoken with his US counterpart, Lloyd Austin, and said “more good news” would be announced “soon”.

Had a 📞 call with @SecDef Lloyd James Austin III
Discussed the results of #Ramstein 8, further strengthening of #UAarmy, including tanks supplies&maintenance of the new armament.
More good news to be announced soon.
We have full trust&strong support of 🇺🇸
Together until victory! pic.twitter.com/XaoRv1EGVn

— Oleksii Reznikov (@oleksiireznikov) January 25, 2023

Summary of the day so far

It’s just past 6pm in Kyiv. Here’s where things stand:

  • Germany has confirmed it will make 14 Leopard 2A6 tanks available for Ukraine’s war effort, and give partner countries permission to re-export further battle tanks to Kyiv. Chancellor Olaf Scholz, whose seeming hesitancy over the question of delivering tanks had in recent days caused growing consternation among western allies, also said his government plans to send further military support to Ukraine beyond the 14 Leopard 2A6 tanks announced earlier today. President Volodymyr Zelenskiy welcomed the decision, and said he is “sincerely grateful” to Chancellor Olaf Scholz. Leopard 2 tanks could be operational in Ukraine in about three months, Germany’s defence minister Boris Pistorius has said.

  • Washington’s reported promise on Tuesday to deliver a significant number of US Abrams tanks to Kyiv appeared to break the deadlock on the issue. The mooted offer to send dozens of its own M1 Abrams battle tanks to Ukraine would be a reversal of its previous position. President Joe Biden is expected to make an announcement at 5pm GMT.

  • On top of the German company of Leopard 2A6 tanks, Finland, Spain and the Netherlands will also contribute vehicles of the same model, according to German media reports. A second battalion will be made up of Leopard 2A4 tanks supplied by Poland and Norway.

  • Germany’s offer of 14 Leopard tanks has prompted calls for more heavy armour by Ukraine’s government. Andriy Yermak, the head of President Zelenskiy’s office, said a broader coalition of tanks was needed: “We need a lot of Leopards.” Zelenskiy, who is celebrating his 45th birthday today, has previously spoken of the need for 300 tanks to provide gamechanging input to the war in Ukraine.

  • The Russian embassy in Germany has accused Berlin of taking the conflict in Ukraine “to a new level of confrontation”. The decision to approve the delivery of Leopard tanks to Ukraine means the “final refusal” of the German government “to recognise its “historical responsibility” to Moscow, Ambassador Sergei Nechayev said in a statement.

  • The Kremlin has downplayed the impact that western tanks will have in repelling its forces in Ukraine, saying that the military aid to Ukraine would “burn like all the rest.” In remarks to reporters, Kremlin spokesperson Dmitry Peskov called the expected transfer of Leopard 2 and Abrams tanks to the Ukrainian army a “failed plan.”

  • Ukraine’s military spokesperson, Serhiy Cherevatyi, has said Ukrainian forces have withdrawn from the eastern town of Soledar in the Donetsk region, according to the country’s state broadcaster Suspilne. The withdrawal of forces was made “in order to preserve the lives of service personnel”, he said. His comments are the first Ukrainian confirmation of Soledar’s capture by Russian forces.

  • One person was killed in Kherson oblast due to Russian shelling, six others were injured, ten others were wounded in Donetsk oblast, according to Ukraine’s state broadcaster Suspilne. It said over the past 24 hours, the Russian Federation carried out four missile and 26 airstrikes, as well as more than 100 shellings from multiple launch rocket systems in Ukraine.

  • In Ukraine, fifteen senior officials have left their posts since Saturday, six of whom have had corruption allegations levelled at them by journalists and Ukraine’s anti-corruption authorities. On Wednesday prosecutor general Andriy Kostin signed orders on the voluntary dismissal of the heads of the Zaporizhzhia, Kirovohrad, Poltava, Sumy, and Chernihiv regional prosecutor’s offices. Oleksiy Kuleba, who was removed as governor of Kyiv on Tuesday, has been appointed deputy head of the president’s office as part of the reshuffle.

  • The Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists has set its Doomsday Clock, intended to illustrate existential risks to the world, at 90 seconds to midnight, the closest to midnight the clock has ever been since it was first introduced in 1947. It is “largely” because of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, they said. Kremlin spokesperson Dmitry Peskov reacted by saying “The situation as a whole is really alarming”, blaming Nato and the US.

  • The Russian defence ministry has said the frigate Admiral Gorshkov has tested its strike capabilities in the western Atlantic Ocean. In a statement, the ministry said the frigate had run a computer simulation on hypersonic Zircon missiles. Zircon missiles have a range of 900km (560 miles), and can travel at several times the speed of sound, making it difficult to defend against them.

  • The European court of human rights has said that a case brought by the Netherlands against Russia over the downing of passenger flight MH17 in July 2014 was admissible. “Among other things, the Court found that areas in eastern Ukraine in separatist hands were, from 11 May 2014 and up to at least 26 January 2022, under the jurisdiction of the Russian Federation,” the court said in a ruling. The case will now move on to the merits stage, expected to take another one to two years before a final decision is issued.

  • Russia’s oldest human rights organisation, the Moscow Helsinki Group, has been liquidated after a Moscow court ruled it did not have the correct registration. Russia’s justice ministry filed a lawsuit against it in December, arguing that the group was only registered to defend human rights in Moscow – not other parts of the country – an argument that the group called nonsensical.

  • The UN’s cultural agency Unesco has said that it has designated the historic centre of Odesa, on Ukraine’s Black Sea coast, a World Heritage in Danger site. Odesa has been bombed several times by Russia since its latest invasion of Ukraine began in February 2022, and in July 2022 part of the large glass roof and windows of Odesa’s Museum of Fine Arts, inaugurated in 1899, were destroyed.

Hello everyone. I’m Léonie Chao-Fong and I’ll be bringing you the latest developments from the Russia-Ukraine war. Feel free to drop me a message if you have anything to flag, you can reach me on Twitter or via email.

Germany’s offer of 14 Leopard tanks has prompted calls for more heavy armour by Ukraine’s government as it formally announced its forces’ retreat from the eastern town of Soledar after nine months of bloody battle.

While Kyiv lauded the decision from Berlin, along with reports the US was preparing to send its own Abrams tanks, aides to the Ukrainian president, Volodymyr Zelenskiy, continued to push for further arms pledges from the west.

That appeal was expected to be partially satisfied as Berlin’s decision potentially unlocks offers made by Finland, Spain, the Netherlands, Portugal, Poland and Norway to provide Ukraine with their own German-manufactured Leopard 2A6 machines.

Tanks

Germany said it was yet to receive any requests with the exception of Poland for authorisation for the re-export of Leopard 2 tanks but added that others would probably make announcements about their plans in the “coming hours and days”.

Read the full story here:

Scholz: Germany to send further military support to Ukraine beyond 14 Leopard tanks

Germany’s chancellor, Olaf Scholz, has said his government plans to send further military support to Ukraine beyond the 14 Leopard 2A6 tanks announced earlier today.

Speaking at a press conference with the Icelandic prime minister, Katrín Jakobsdóttir, Scholz said it was the “right path” to support Kyiv with arms deliveries, especially with tanks.

He said:

Alongside the tanks that are being discussed now, we continue to intend to expand what we have delivered.

He said further arms deliveries could include air defence systems, heavy artillery and multiple rocket launchers.

Ukraine’s prime minister, Denys Shmyhal, says he is also “grateful” to Germany and western allies who are ready to hand over Leopard 2 tanks to Kyiv.

Green light for 🐆. 🇩🇪 Chancellor @OlafScholz announced the provision of Leopard 2 tanks to #Ukraine and permission to re-export them to 🇺🇦. We expect to attract many partners to the tank coalition. Grateful to 🇩🇪 government & all countries that are ready to hand over Leopard 2.

— Denys Shmyhal (@Denys_Shmyhal) January 25, 2023

The United Nations cultural agency UNESCO said on Wednesday that it had designated the historic centre of Odesa on Ukraine’s Black Sea coast, a World Heritage in Danger site.

Reuters notes Odesa has been bombed several times by Russia since its latest invasion of Ukraine began in February 2022, and that in July 2022 part of the large glass roof and windows of Odesa’s Museum of Fine Arts, inaugurated in 1899, were destroyed.

Pavlo Kyrylenko, Ukraine’s governor of Donetsk, one of the occupied regions of the Donbas which the Russian Federation claims to have annexed, has posted to Telegram to reiterate pleas for civilians to evacuate Avdiivka, saying it has again been struck by Russian fire causing damage to housing infrastructure. He writes:

Another shelling of Avdiivka – numerous high-rise buildings were damaged.

This afternoon, the Russians struck another blow at the residential quarters of Avdiivka — the city suffers from shelling every day and has already been virtually destroyed.

Avdiivka has been our outpost in the Donetsk direction for nine years, and has been under constant fire since the beginning of the full-scale invasion.

This is one of the hottest spots on the front. All civilians not involved in the work of critical infrastructure must leave the city. Save your life and health — evacuate!

Reuters has a little more on that decision by the ECHR that a legal case against Russia over the downing of Flight MH17 in 2014 was admissible. It reports:

The European court of human rights said cases brought by Ukraine and the Netherlands against Russia over human rights violations in the regions of Luhansk and Donetsk in Ukraine, and the shooting down of Flight MH-17, were admissible.

“Among other things, the court found that areas in eastern Ukraine in separatist hands were, from 11 May 2014 and up to at least 26 January 2022, under the jurisdiction of the Russian Federation,” the court said in a ruling on Wednesday.

The cases will now move on to the merits stage, expected take another one to two years before a final decision is issued.

The ECHR ruling opens the doors to at least three other cases by the Ukrainian state against Russia, which had been put on hold pending the decision on jurisdiction.

The Netherlands filed its case with the ECHR in 2020, saying the shooting down of MH17 over territory in eastern Ukraine held by Russian-backed separatists breached the European convention on human rights.

Moscow has repeatedly denied any involvement in the destruction of the aircraft, which killed 298 people.

The two Ukrainian cases, which date from 2014, pertain to what Kyiv says were administrative practices by Russia in eastern Ukraine in violation of the European convention on human rights, as well as the abduction of three groups of Ukrainian orphan children and children without parental care, and a number of adults accompanying them.

Ukraine’s state broadcaster Suspilne is reporting that two civilians have been killed in the Kherson region. On its official Telegram channel it writes:

In the middle of the day, the Russian army attacked Beryslav. Shells hit a grocery store. Two people died, three were injured, Kherson regional authority reported.

The claims have not been independently verified.

Kherson is one of the regions of Ukraine which the Russian Federation has claimed to annex, despite not controlling all of the territory, its forces having retreated behind the south bank of the Dnieper River. Beryslav lies on the north bank of the river towards the east of the region.

European court of human rights rules Netherlands can bring case against Russia over MH17

The European court of human rights said on Wednesday that a case brought by the Netherlands against Russia over the downing of passenger flight MH17 in July 2014 was admissible.

Reuters reports that the decision is procedural and does not rule on the merits of the case, but it does show the Strasbourg-based court considers Russia can be held liable for human rights violations in the currently occupied Ukrainian regions of Luhansk and Donetsk, which the Russian Federation claimed to annex in September 2022.

Australia and the Netherlands have been seeking compensation and an apology from the Russian Federation for the MH17 disaster that saw 298 people, including 38 Australians, killed when it was shot down over Ukraine in 2014. Russia has denied involvement, despite the findings of an international investigation.

A part of the wreckage is seen at the crash site of the Malaysia Airlines Flight MH17 in the Donetsk region.
A part of the wreckage is seen at the crash site of the Malaysia Airlines Flight MH17 in the Donetsk region. Photograph: Maxim Zmeyev/Reuters

Australia and the Netherlands say there is the “overwhelming evidence” that the flight was shot down by a Russian Buk-Telar surface-to-air missile system, which was transported from Russia to an agricultural field in the east of Ukraine on the morning of 17 July 2014. At the time the area was under the control of Russian-backed separatists.

Russia’s oldest human rights organisation, the Moscow Helsinki Group, was liquidated on Wednesday after a court ruled it did not have the correct registration, the latest in a series of closures that critics say is reminiscent of the Soviet era.

Founded in 1976 by Soviet dissident scientists, the group produced annual reports on Russia’s human rights situation and was one of the country’s few remaining independent rights organisations after the closure of Nobel prize-winner Memorial in 2021.

Its original aim was to monitor the Soviet Union’s compliance with the Helsinki accords, an east-west agreement aimed at easing tensions at the height of the cold war, but it later expanded to advocate democracy and civil rights.

Members of the Moscow Helsinki group defence team appear in a Moscow court.
Members of the Moscow Helsinki group defence team appear in a Moscow court. Photograph: Alexander Nemenov/AFP/Getty Images

Reuters reports Russia’s justice ministry filed a lawsuit against it in December, arguing that the group was only registered to defend human rights in Moscow – not other parts of the country – an argument that the group called nonsensical.

Co-chair of the group Valery Borshov told the judge and representatives from the justice ministry that liquidating the group would put an end to decades of work.

“You are committing a great sin. You are destroying the human rights movement, you are destroying it,” he said. “The liquidation of the group is a serious blow to the human rights movement not only in Russia but also the world.”

President Joe Biden is scheduled to deliver remarks on Ukraine at 12pm ET (GMT 1700), the White House has said.

Washington is expected to announce as soon as today that it will send M1 Abrams tanks, according to sources.

Germany has not received any requests – with the exception of Poland –to re-export Leopard battle tanks to Ukraine, according to a government spokesperson.

Partner states will probably make announcements about their plans in the “coming hours and days”, they added.

Here’s more on the Ukrainian military’s confirmation that its troops have withdrawn from the town of Soledar in the Donetsk region.

Serhiy Cherevatyi, Ukraine’s military spokesperson, said the withdrawal of forces was made “in order to preserve the lives of service personnel”, according to state broadcaster Suspilne.

He was quoted as saying:

[Our forces] fulfilled their main task: not allowing the enemy to systematically break through in the Donetsk direction.

Ukraine’s troops “performed a real feat” by holding their position “despite the enemy’s advantage by 3-5 times”, he said.

He added that Ukrainian forces had at no point been surrounded in Soledar during fierce fighting, and that no Ukrainian prisoners of war had been taken.

Zelenskiy says he is ‘sincerely grateful’ for German tank decision

President Volodymyr Zelenskiy has welcomed the decision by Germany to supply his country with Leopard 2 battle tanks, and said he is “sincerely grateful” to Chancellor Olaf Scholz.

German main battle tanks, further broadening of defense support & training missions, green light for partners to supply similar weapons. Just heard about these important & timely decisions in a call with @OlafScholz. Sincerely grateful to the Chancellor and all our friends in 🇩🇪.

— Володимир Зеленський (@ZelenskyyUa) January 25, 2023

Zelenskiy’s foreign minister, Dmytro Kuleba, has called on allies to join the “tank coalition” and send “as many of them as possible” to support Ukraine’s war effort.

So the tank coalition is formed. Everyone who doubted this could ever happen sees now: for Ukraine and partners impossible is nothing. I call on all new partners that have Leopard 2 tanks in service to join the coalition and provide as many of them as possible. They are free now.

— Dmytro Kuleba (@DmytroKuleba) January 25, 2023

Russia warns Germany’s ‘extremely dangerous’ tank decision takes conflict ‘to a new level’

The Russian embassy in Germany has accused Berlin of abandoning its “historical responsibility” to Moscow and of taking the conflict in Ukraine “to a new level of confrontation”.

Ambassador Sergei Nechayev said in a statement:

This extremely dangerous decision takes the conflict to a new level of confrontation and contradicts the statements of German politicians about the unwillingness of the Federal Republic of Germany to be drawn into it.

He added:

It destroys the remnants of mutual trust, causes irreparable damage to the already deplorable state of Russian-German relations, and casts doubt on the possibility of their normalisation in the foreseeable future.

The decision to approve the delivery of Leopard tanks to Ukraine means the “final refusal” of the German government “to recognise its historical responsibility to our people for the terrible, timeless crimes of Nazism during the Great Patriotic War, and the consigning to oblivion of the difficult path of post-war reconciliation between Russians and Germans”, he continued.

He said:

With the approval of the leadership of Germany, battle tanks with German crosses will again be sent to the ‘eastern front’, which will inevitably lead to the deaths of not only Russian soldiers, but also the civilian population.

Spain is open to sending Leopard tanks to Ukraine, says defence minister

Spain is “willing to work with allies” to send Leopard 2 tanks to Ukraine, defence minister Margarita Robles has said.

Speaking to EFE news agency, as quoted by Reuters, Robles said:

Spain is willing, within this coordination, to work with our allies to do whatever is necessary including the sending of Leopards, training in the use of these Leopards and also to help in their maintenance and upkeep.

The UK’s defence secretary, Ben Wallace, says he is “delighted” that Germany will send Leopard tanks to support Ukraine.

Wallace writes:

It is time for Russia to realise that the International community is increasingly determined to help Ukraine resist their barbaric and illegal invasion.

Delighted Germany joins the UK, France & Poland in sending tanks to Ukraine. It is time for Russia to realise that the International community is increasingly determined to help Ukraine resist their barbaric and illegal invasion. 🇬🇧 🇫🇷🇩🇪 🇺🇸🇵🇱🇺🇦

— Rt. Hon Ben Wallace MP (@BWallaceMP) January 25, 2023

Leopard 2 tanks could be operational in Ukraine in about three months, Germany’s defence minister Boris Pistorius has said.

Describing Berlin’s decision to send tanks to Ukraine as “historic”, he said training will be carried out first and then the tanks will be sent to Kyiv.





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