Wagner head urges legal protections for volunteers who fight as mercenaries in Ukraine

1 week ago
1 hr 50 min ago

It's after midnight in Kyiv. Here's what you need to know

From CNN staff

Germany has decided to deliver Leopard 2 tanks to Ukraine, according to German newspaper Der Spiegel. German Chancellor Olaf Scholz made the decision after "months of debate," according to the exclusive report.

Here are the latest headlines:

Leopard 2 tanks: Berlin has not yet formally notified Warsaw about the reported decision to allow Leopard 2 tanks to be sent to Ukraine, a Polish official told CNN Tuesday. Poland will ask for reimbursement from the European Union for any Leopard tanks sent to Ukraine, according to Poland's prime minister. German parliament is set to debate the contentious Leopard tank issue Wednesday morning.

Abrams tanks: The Biden administration is finalizing plans to send US-made Abrams tanks to Ukraine and could make an announcement as soon as this week, according to three US officials familiar with the deliberations. State Department spokesperson Ned Price said the United States “is regularly engaged in” conversations with allies and partners about military equipment for Ukraine, but would not confirm reports about sending Abrams tanks or that Germany will send Leopards. 

Russian shortages and inflation: Russian President Vladmir Putin said Tuesday that inspections have indicated a shortage of some drugs in Russian pharmacies as well as an increase in prices, according to state news agency TASS. Shops in Moscow have shuttered as businesses face the economic fall-out from massive Western sanctions in response to the war in Ukraine.

Wagner appeal: The head of the Wagner private military company appealed Tuesday to the Russian State Duma to issue protections for the volunteers and convicts who fight as Wagner mercenaries in Ukraine.

British volunteer deaths: British volunteers Chris Parry and Andrew Bagshaw were killed during a humanitarian evacuation mission in the eastern Ukrainian town of Soledar, according to a statement from the Parry family released Tuesday by the UK foreign office. The families of both men had previously said the two had gone to Ukraine to work as humanitarian volunteers. CNN has seen no evidence they participated in hostilities in Ukraine.

Debunked accusations: No military equipment is being stored in the Ukrainian nuclear power plants inspected by the International Atomic Energy Agency, the chief of the UN nuclear watchdog Rafael Grossi told European Parliament lawmakers on Tuesday. Grossi’s comments come a day after Russia again accused Ukraine of using nuclear power plant sites to store Western-supplied weapons.  

3 hr 11 min ago

IAEA says no military equipment found in Ukrainian nuclear power plants

From CNN’s Eleanor Pickston and Katya Krebs

No military equipment is being stored in the Ukrainian nuclear power plants inspected by the International Atomic Energy Agency, the chief of the UN nuclear watchdog Rafael Grossi told European Parliament lawmakers on Tuesday. His comments debunk previous accusations made by Russia.

"This morning I instructed my teams to address a comprehensive review of the facilities in collaboration and in cooperation with the Ukrainian management of these facilities to ascertain whether there is, in fact, any military equipment in store or stationed or being moved there. And, of course, the results of those inspections was negative,” Grossi told the assembly in Brussels.
“It's the second time that in a calm way, a technical way, the IAEA has been able to debunk accusations of illegal things, and very dangerous things, taking place in these facilities,” he said. 

Grossi’s comments come a day after Russia again accused Ukraine of using nuclear power plant sites to store Western-supplied weapons.  

On Monday, the Russian Foreign Intelligence (SVR) Director ​Sergey Naryshkin accused Ukraine in a statement of “stockpiling weapons and ammunition provided by the West on the territories of nuclear power plants.”

“This applies to the scarcest and most expensive missiles for the Armed Forces of Ukraine for the HIMARS MLRS and foreign air defense systems, as well as large-caliber artillery ammunition,” the statement added.

Regarding the situation on the ground in Ukraine, Grossi told European lawmakers that the possibility of increased military activity in the coming months “raises our degree of concern” about the potential impact on Ukraine’s nuclear infrastructure.

The situation in the recent days around Zaporizhzhia has been “pretty tense” with shelling in the vicinity of the Zaporizhzia nuclear site, Grossi added.

1 hr 46 min ago

Finland foreign minister calls reports that US and Germany will send tanks to Ukraine "very good news"

From CNN's Amy Cassidy and Isa Soares

A Polish Leopard 2 during an international military exercise on January 27, 2022, in Bavaria, Hohenfels, Germany.A Polish Leopard 2 during an international military exercise on January 27, 2022, in Bavaria, Hohenfels, Germany. (Armin Weigel/dpa/AP)

Finland’s Foreign Minister Pekka Haavisto welcomed reports Tuesday that the United States and Germany are planning to send battle tanks to Ukraine, telling CNN’s Isa Soares that it is “very good news."

German news outlet Der Spiegel reported Tuesday that Germany is set to deliver its Leopard 2 tanks to Ukraine, citing unnamed sources. CNN reached out to the German government for comment on Tuesday evening but has not received a response.

Meanwhile, the Biden administration is finalizing plans to send US-made Abrams tanks to Ukraine and could make an announcement as soon as this week, according to three US officials familiar with the deliberations.

Haavisto noted that while there isn't a "final confirmation" of the reported German decision yet, “there can be a connection” between both developments. Germany had indicated to the US last week that it would not send its Leopard tanks unless the US also agreed to send its Abrams tanks.

“Now of course if the Leopard 2 is moving and the Abrams moving on the US side, Ukraine will get those weapons that they are in need of to defend their territory,” the Finnish foreign minister told CNN. “Very good news."
3 hr 17 min ago

UK volunteers killed in eastern Ukraine while helping with humanitarian evacuation, family says

From CNN's Lauren Kent in London

British volunteers Chris Parry, left, and Andrew Bagshaw.British volunteers Chris Parry, left, and Andrew Bagshaw. (Reuters)

British volunteers Chris Parry and Andrew Bagshaw have been killed during a humanitarian evacuation mission in the eastern Ukrainian town of Soledar, according to a statement from the Parry family, which was released Tuesday by the UK foreign office. Bagshaw was a dual national of New Zealand.

"It is with great sadness we have to announce that our beloved Chrissy has been killed along with his colleague Andrew Bagshaw whilst attempting a humanitarian evacuation from Soledar, eastern Ukraine," the Parry family statement said. "His selfless determination in helping the old, young and disadvantaged there has made us and his larger family extremely proud."

"We never imagined we would be saying goodbye to Chris when he had such a full life ahead of him. He was a caring son, fantastic brother, a best friend to so many and a loving partner to Olga," the statement added. 

"He found himself drawn to Ukraine in March in its darkest hour at the start of the Russian invasion and helped those most in need, saving over 400 lives plus many abandoned animals. It is impossible to put into words how much he will be missed but he will forever be in our hearts," it said.

"We feel so privileged that he chose our family to be part of," the statement said, which was signed by family members Rob, Christine, and Katy Parry. 

The UK Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office has requested privacy for the family at this time. 

More on this case: The families of both men had previously said the two had gone to Ukraine to work as humanitarian volunteers. CNN has seen no evidence they participated in hostilities in Ukraine.

On Jan. 9, Ukrainian police reported that they were searching for Bagshaw and Parry. Ukrainian police noted that the two Britons “left Kramatorsk for Soledar" — the scene of intense recent fighting — "and contact with them was lost," CNN previously reported.

CNN's Seb Shukla, Mick Krever, Anna Chernova and Eve Brennan contributed reporting to this post.

4 hr 26 min ago

Incoming US ambassador to Russia met with Russian counterpart, State Department says

From CNN's Jennifer Hansler

Incoming US Ambassador to Russia Lynne Tracy met with Russian Ambassador to the US Anatoly Antonov, State Department spokesperson Ned Price said Tuesday. 

“This was an opportunity for her to have a discussion with her counterpart here in DC,” he said at a press briefing.

Price said the two did not discuss “any form of a negotiated settlement over Russia’s brutal war with Ukraine.”

“She's currently in the process of having consultations with desks and individuals here in Washington, and in this case, she had an opportunity to have a discussion with Ambassador Antonov,” he said.

Price said that Tracy is expected to depart for Moscow “where she will present her credentials in the coming days” and she is expected to be in place as the top US diplomat in Russia “later this month.”

“We have been clear about our desire to maintain open channels of communication with Russia,” Price said.

He noted that the US Embassy in Moscow is “under duress because of the pressure and the limitations that the Kremlin has imposed on it,” but the US is also able to communicate with the Russian Embassy in the US. 

“There are open channels of communication. We use these channels to convey where we are on issues that are of the utmost priority to us,” including wrongfully detained American citizens and the costs of Russian escalation, Price said.

3 hr 46 min ago

State Department: US "regularly engaged in" conversations about military equipment for Ukraine

From CNN's Jennifer Hansler and Kylie Atwood 

State Department spokesperson Ned Price answers questions from press during the daily press briefing at the State Department in Washington DC, on January 9.State Department spokesperson Ned Price answers questions from press during the daily press briefing at the State Department in Washington DC, on January 9. (Celal Gunes/Anadolu Agency/Getty Images)

State Department spokesperson Ned Price said the United States “is regularly engaged in” conversations with allies and partners about military equipment for Ukraine but would not confirm reports that the US is preparing to send Abrams tanks or that Germany will send Leopards. 

“We’re not going to get ahead of any potential announcements from other allies, other partners, we’re not going to preview anything else we may have to say,” Price said at a press briefing Tuesday. 

“We have not taken capabilities off the table,” he added.

The Biden administration is finalizing plans to send Abrams tanks to Ukraine, three US officials familiar with the deliberations said Tuesday. An announcement could come as soon as this week, the officials said.

The timing around the actual delivery of the tanks is still unclear, and it normally takes several months to train troops to use the tanks effectively, officials said. 

Price noted that “just because we’re in the same public place doesn’t necessarily mean we haven’t made progress on any given issue.”

4 hr 40 min ago

Germany hasn't formally notified Poland about a decision on Leopard 2 tanks, Polish official says

From CNN's Jennifer Hansler 

Berlin has not yet formally notified Warsaw about a decision to allow Leopard 2 tanks to be sent to Ukraine, a Polish official told CNN on Tuesday.

Earlier Tuesday, the German government press office confirmed receipt of a Polish request to export the German-made main battle tanks to Ukraine. 

Newspaper Der Spiegel reported Tuesday that German Chancellor Olaf Scholz has decided to deliver battle tanks to Ukraine after "months of debate." It will be part of a larger effort for allies to send tanks to Ukraine, the report said.

CNN reached out to the German government for comment on Tuesday but has not received a response. 

5 hr 3 min ago

US National Guard will train Ukrainians on "whatever we're asked," chief says

From CNN's Haley Britzky

Gen. Daniel Hokanson, the chief of the US National Guard, told reporters Tuesday that it is “pretty motivating” to see Ukrainian troops training with Guard members in Germany.

“I had the opportunity to actually visit them in 2022 in June as we were training the Ukrainians there, and I will tell you it’s a great effort, Ukrainian soldiers are very motivated, obviously their country has been invaded, an unprovoked invasion, and they’re there trying to defend their sovereignty … it’s pretty motivating to see the dedication of our Guardsmen and the Ukrainian soldiers working together to prepare them to go back into their country,” Hokanson said.

Ukrainian soldiers began training in Germany with US troops last week on combined arms training. A group of 90-100 troops also began training on the Patriot missile system at Fort Sill, Oklahoma.

3 hr 44 min ago

Germany has decided to deliver Leopard 2 tanks to Ukraine, German newspaper reports

From CNN's Lauren Kent and Mick Krever in London, Fred Pleitgen in Kyiv and Inke Kappeler in Berlin

Austrian soldiers drive a Leopard tank during a military exercise in Grafenwoehr, Germany, in 2017.Austrian soldiers drive a Leopard tank during a military exercise in Grafenwoehr, Germany, in 2017. (Christof Stache/AFP via Getty Images)

Germany is set to send Leopard 2 tanks to Ukraine, newspaper Der Spiegel reported on Tuesday evening, citing unnamed sources. German Chancellor Olaf Scholz has decided to deliver battle tanks to Ukraine after "months of debate," according to the exclusive Der Spiegel report.

It will be part of a larger effort for allies to send tanks to Ukraine, the report added.

Meanwhile, the Biden administration is finalizing plans to send US-made Abrams tanks to Ukraine and could make an announcement as soon as this week, according to three US officials familiar with the deliberations.

An announcement about the tanks could be part of an attempt to break a diplomatic logjam with Germany, which indicated to the US last week that it would not send its Leopard tanks to Ukraine unless the US also agreed to send its M1 Abrams tanks.

CNN reached out to the German government for comment on Tuesday evening but has not received a response. 

Meanwhile, German parliament is still due to debate the contentious issue of possibly sending Leopard tanks to Ukraine on Wednesday morning.

The German army has 320 Leopard 2 tanks in its possession but does not reveal how many would be battle-ready, a spokeswoman for the Ministry of Defense previously told CNN.

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