Russia-Ukraine war live: Germany poised to send tanks as Moscow accuses US of ‘blatant provocation’ | Russia

Washington’s possible tank deliveries a ‘blatant provocation’ – Russian ambassador

The possible deliveries of battle tanks by Washington to Ukraine will be a “another blatant provocation” against Russia, Anatoly Antonov, Russia’s ambassador to the US, said on Wednesday.

“It is obvious that Washington is purposefully trying to inflict a strategic defeat on us,” Antonov said in remarks published on the embassy’s Telegram messaging app.

“If the United States decides to supply tanks, then justifying such a step with arguments about ‘defensive weapons’ will definitely not work. This would be another blatant provocation against the Russian Federation.”

Key events

Kremlin spokesperson Dmitry Peskov expressed alarm this morning that the “Doomsday Clock” had edged closer to midnight than ever, even though the scientists who moved the symbolic dial cited Moscow’s own “thinly veiled threats” to use nuclear weapons.

“The situation as a whole is really alarming,” Reuters reports Peskov told reporters, calling for a sober appraisal of the tensions between Russia and the West over the Ukraine crisis.

He said there was no prospect of any detente, based on “the line that was chosen by Nato under US leadership”.

“This imposes on us a duty to be particularly careful, to be alert and to take appropriate measures,” he added.

Peskov also called absurd the view in the west that peace and security on the continent would be obtained by arming Ukraine. Tass quotes him saying:

We see a lot of manifestations of the conviction of a number of politicians, a number of experts, the military, and so on, who believe that it is by continuing the war that the security of the continent can be ensured. This is an absurd belief, this a dead end path for the development of thought – both military and political.

We were convinced of this a year ago, and even a little more than a year ago, when President Putin called on everyone to sit down at the negotiating table and discuss our concerns, when President Putin called on everyone to remember several decades of Nato’s gradual offensive towards Russia, and when Putin warned that the continuation of this line could not remain without consequences.

In Spain, El País is reporting that the government is poised to commit to sending tanks to Ukraine. It writes:

Spain will join the delivery of Leopard tanks to Kyiv once Germany, after months of resisting delivering it, has agreed to supply the powerful German-made battle tank to the Ukrainian Army. The Spanish Government had conditioned its participation in the operation to provide Ukraine with a system capable of counteracting the firepower of modern Russian tanks on the existence of an agreement at the European level.

The upheaval in Ukraine’s authorities continues today, with state broadcaster Suspilne reporting that prosecutor general Andriy Kostin has “signed orders on the voluntary dismissal of the heads of the Zaporizhzhia, Kirovohrad, Poltava, Sumy, and Chernihiv regional prosecutor’s offices.”

Reuters has produced a quick guide to which countries are poised to send tanks to Ukraine, with an announcement from the US and Germany expected later today.

  • US: officials say Washington is poised to send dozens of its M1 Abrams battle tank, reversing its previous position.

  • Germany: sources say chancellor Olaf Scholz has decided to send Leopard 2 battle tanks. He will also allow other countries to send theirs, they say.

  • UK: the British government announced on 14 January that it would send a squadron, or 14, of its Challenger 2 battle tanks.

  • Poland: Warsaw has said it is ready to send up to 14 of its Leopard 2 tanks and has been pressing Berlin to approve the move.

  • Norway: the government is considering whether to send some of its Leopard tanks, newspapers reported.

  • Finland: has said it could donate a small number of Leopard 2 tanks to Ukraine if a wider group of European nations also decided to do so, but it would depend on Berlin’s approval.

Over the news wires we have been sent a series of pictures taken yesterday which show Ukrainian troops travelling towards the Donbas frontline in Donetsk.

A military convey in Donetsk.
A military convey in Donetsk. Photograph: Anadolu Agency/Getty Images
Armoured military vehicles travel through Donetsk.
Armoured military vehicles travel through Donetsk. Photograph: Anadolu Agency/Getty Images
A Ukrainian soldier is seen on his way to the frontline.
A Ukrainian soldier is seen on his way to the frontline. Photograph: Anadolu Agency/Getty Images
A soldier signals to the photographer as the convey passes.
A soldier signals to the photographer as the convey passes. Photograph: Anadolu Agency/Getty Images

Ukraine’s state broadcaster Suspilne offers this summary of events in Ukraine in the last 24 hours. It reports on its official Telegram news channel:

In the morning, Kupiansk in the Kharkiv region came under fire from the Russian army. A private house and a shop caught fire from the shelling. There are no injured.

Over the past 24 hours, one person was killed in Kherson Oblast due to Russian shelling, six others were injured, ten others were wounded in Donetsk Oblast.

Over the past 24 hours, the Russian Federation has carried out four missile and 26 airstrikes, as well as more than 100 shellings from multiple launch rocket systems in Ukraine. At the same time, the aviation of the defence forces carried out eight strikes on areas where Russian troops were concentrated, destroyed an SU-25 and three KA-52 attack helicopters.

Oleksiy Kuleba, who yesterday was moved from being governor of Kyiv region to take up a new role in Volodymyr Zelenskiy’s office, has posted what he describes as a message of “gratitude” on Telegram. In it he thanks the Ukrainian president “for the trust, for the opportunity to expand my experience and work not only for the benefit of the Kyiv region, but also for the whole of Ukraine.”

He also writes:

Thanks to everyone who worked, fought, and showed results during the last year. In the conditions of a full-scale war. For the sake of Kyiv region. For Ukraine.

I thank the defence Forces, which liberated the Kyiv region from the Russian invaders and continue to defend our independence.

I am grateful to the rescuers, policemen, volunteers, educators, doctors, residents of the region who, side by side with the military, did and are doing everything to bring our victory closer.

We have done a lot. I say “we”, because I am leaving the administration, where a reliable team of specialists will work. Together we will continue to rebuild and develop.

Kuleba was in his second spell as governor of Kyiv region, serving initially for a period of about a month in February 2022, and then again from May 2022 until yesterday.

Pavlo Kyrylenko, Ukraine’s governor of Donetsk, one of the occupied regions of the Donbas that the Russian Federation claims to have annexed, has posted his situational update for the day to Telegram. He claims 10 civilians were wounded by Russian fire yesterday. He writes:

In the Volnovakha direction, 42 houses were damaged under intense fire. As a result of yesterday’s shelling of Kostyantynivka, five people were injured and ten high-rise buildings were damaged. In Bakhmut, the city council, the Palace of Culture, the Center for the provision of social services and the boiler house were damaged.

Kyrylenko continues to describe the situation in Soledar as “tense”. Pro-Russian forces claim to have captured it, but Ukraine is yet to concede that it has been lost.

The claims have not been independently verified.

Maksym Kozytskyi, governor of Lviv, has cautioned residents to stay in shelters while an air alert takes place. In his daily update on Telegram, he writes:

The day before, 24 January, there was a threat of a cruise missile attack from the territory of Belarus. The air alert lasted 40 minutes. The danger did not materialize. However, this morning the sirens sounded again for an air alert. A-50, SU-30, MIG-31 aircraft, which are the carriers of the “Daggers”, took off in Belarus. Stay in shelters until there is a signal to retreat.

Kozytskyi also states that 71 internally displaced people arrived in the region via evacuation trains yesterday.

The Russian defence ministry said on Wednesday 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, Reuters reports.

A still image taken from video released by the press service of the ministry of defence of the Russian Federation shows crew members on the frigate Admiral Gorshkov.
A still image taken from video released by the Russian Federation defence ministry shows crew members on the frigate Admiral Gorshkov. Photograph: Press Service of Russian Defence Ministry/EPA

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 statement did not say the frigate had launched a missile.

A still image taken from a video released by press service of the ministry of defence of the Russian Federation shows the frigate Admiral Gorshkov.
A still image taken from a video released by the Russian Federation defence ministry shows the frigate Admiral Gorshkov. Photograph: Press Service of Russian Defence Ministry/EPA

The UK’s Ministry of Defence has issued its daily intelligence briefing on how it sees the situation in Ukraine, and today the focus is on tanks. But not the Leopard tanks the west has been agonising over sending to Ukraine, the MoD is discussing Russian tanks. It writes:

Russia has worked to prepare a small number of T-14 Armata main battle tanks for the type’s first operational deployment in Ukraine. However, in recent months, deployed Russian forces were reluctant to accept the first tranche of T-14 allocated to them because the vehicles were in such poor condition. It is unclear exactly what aspects of the vehicles prompted this reaction, but within the last three years, Russian officials have publicly described problems with the T-14’s engine and thermal imaging systems.

Nato secretary general Jens Stoltenberg expects the alliance’s member states to raise their current spending target on defence of 2% of national output when they meet for a summit in Vilnius in July, he has told German newspaper Die Welt.

“I assume that there will be a new target for defence spending when we meet for the Nato summit in Vilnius in July this year,” Stoltenberg told Welt, Reuters reports.

“The 2% target was initially for a decade, so until 2024, so we have to update it now.”

Stoltenberg said he could not yet say what the member states would agree on. “But I assume that it will be a more ambitious target than before, because everybody sees that we need to invest more,” he added.

It happens to be Zelenskiy’s 45th birthday today. Germany is (reportedly) going to need a lot of wrapping paper.

Zelenskyy turned 45 today.

— Nika Melkozerova (@NikaMelkozerova) January 25, 2023

With that, I’m handing over to my colleague Martin Belam in the UK.

Norway may send Leopard tanks to Ukraine – reports

The Norwegian government is considering whether to send some of its German-made Leopard 2 tanks to Ukraine, Oslo-based newspapers Aftenposten and Dagens Naeringsliv reported late on Tuesday.

No decision to send the heavy battle tanks has yet been made, according to each of the papers, quoting anonymous sources familiar with the deliberation.

Norway, a Nato member that borders Russia, may contribute either four or eight of the country’s 36 Leopard 2 tanks, according to Dagens Naeringsliv.

Zelenskiy warns of ‘new wave of aggression’

Volodymyr Zelenskiy said on Tuesday that Kyiv needed allies to decide on whether they would deliver modern tanks to strengthen the country’s defence against Russia and repeated Ukraine’s contention that Moscow is planning a new wave of aggression, with the first signs already visible in the broader Donbas region in Ukraine’s south-east.

He said:

Russia is preparing for a new wave of aggression with the forces it can mobilise. The occupiers are already increasing pressure in the Bakhmut, Vuhledar and other directions. And they want to increase pressure on a larger scale. In order not to recognise the mistake of aggression, the masters of Russia want to throw more of their people and equipment into the fighting.

“The occupiers are already increasing the pressure around Bakhmut and Vuhledar and elsewhere,” Zelenskiy said. “And they want to increase the pressure on a larger scale.”

Fighting around the eastern town of Bakhmut has intensified in recent weeks, with Russia claiming a number of successes in its campaign there.

Washington’s possible tank deliveries a ‘blatant provocation’ – Russian ambassador

The possible deliveries of battle tanks by Washington to Ukraine will be a “another blatant provocation” against Russia, Anatoly Antonov, Russia’s ambassador to the US, said on Wednesday.

“It is obvious that Washington is purposefully trying to inflict a strategic defeat on us,” Antonov said in remarks published on the embassy’s Telegram messaging app.

“If the United States decides to supply tanks, then justifying such a step with arguments about ‘defensive weapons’ will definitely not work. This would be another blatant provocation against the Russian Federation.”

US and Germany expected to reveal tanks deal

The US and Germany are poised to provide a significant boost to Kyiv’s war effort with the delivery of heavy battle tanks to Ukraine, sources say, a move Moscow condemned as a “blatant provocation”.

Washington was expected to announce as soon as Wednesday that it will send M1 Abrams tanks and Berlin has decided to dispatch Leopard 2 tanks, the sources said, a reversal in policy that Kyiv has said would help reshape the conflict.

Ukrainian president Volodymyr Zelenskiy again pressed western allies to provide their most modern battle tanks, saying in his nightly video address that “discussions must be concluded with decisions”.

Germany and the US have until now held back on providing heavy armour, wary of moves that could give the Kremlin reason to widen the conflict.

Summary and welcome

Hello and welcome to our live coverage of the war in Ukraine. My name is Helen Sullivan and I’ll be bringing you the latest for the next while.

Our top story this morning: The United States and Germany are reportedly poised to provide a significant boost to Ukraine’s war effort with the delivery of heavy battle tanks. There has been no official confirmation, however.

Germany’s decision is expected to be made official on Wednesday and Germany’s chancellor, Olaf Scholz, is due to be questioned in the Bundestag in the morning in a debate likely to be dominated by the tank decision.

Meanwhile late on Tuesday night Volodymyr Zelenskiy warned that “Russia is preparing for a new wave of aggression with the forces it can mobilise.”

We’ll have more on these stories shortly. In the meantime here are the other key recent developments:

  • 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. The deputy head of Ukraine’s presidential office, Kyrylo Tymoshenko, said on Tuesday he had asked Zelenskiy on Monday to relieve him of his duties as part of the wave of government resignations and dismissals.

  • Deputy defence minister Vyacheslav Shapovalov, responsible for supplying troops with food and equipment, also resigned, citing “media accusations” of corruption that he and the ministry say are baseless. Deputy prosecutor general Oleksiy Symonenko has been removed from his post, and two deputy ministers resigned from Ukraine’s ministry of communities and territories development.

  • Five regional governors are also being removed from power: Valentyn Reznichenko, of Dnipropetrovsk, Oleksandra Starukha of Zaporizhzhia, Oleksiy Kuleba of Kyiv, Dymtro Zhivytskyi, of Sumy and Yaroslav Yanushevich, of Kherson. Kherson and Zaporizhizhia are two of the regions of Ukraine which the Russian Federation has claimed to annex.

  • The Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists has reset 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.

  • Ukraine has enough coal and gas reserves for the remaining months of winter despite repeated Russian attacks on its energy system, prime minister Denys Shmyhal has said.

  • Finland’s foreign minister Pekka Haavisto has signalled a possible pause in discussions with Turkey over Finnish ambitions to join Nato alongside Sweden, which he says is due to the pressure of Turkey’s forthcoming election.

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