Russia’s foreign minister Lavrov’s comments come as Germany faces growing pressure to allow Ukraine to obtain Leopard tanks - as the conflict enters its 334th day.

Ukrainian servicemen seen near the frontline in Donetsk on Monday, amid Russia's attack.
Ukrainian servicemen seen near the frontline in Donetsk on Monday, amid Russia's attack. (Reuters)

Monday, January 23, 2023

1515 GMT

EU to mark 1st year of Russia-Ukraine conflict in Istanbul

To mark the first year of the Russia-Ukraine war, the EU plans to hold a major event in Istanbul next month, the bloc's top representative in Ankara has said.

"We will organise quite a major event here in Istanbul after what would then be one year of the Russian war against Ukraine," on Febraury 22, with high-level Ukrainian government officials to be invited, Nikolaus Meyer-Landrut, head of the EU Delegation to Türkiye told reporters in Istanbul.

The geopolitical and economic impact of the war will be on the agenda of the event, which will be joined by a Turkish representative as well, Meyer-Landrut said, adding that it was not yet clear who would be attending.

Here are other developments:

1456 GMT - Norway arrests former top Wagner Group member

A former high-ranking member of the Russian private military contractor Wagner Group seeking asylum in Norway is in police custody on suspicion of entering the Scandinavian country illegally, authorities have said.

Russian Andrey Medvedev “has been arrested under the Immigration Act and it is being assessed whether he should be produced for detention,” Jon Andreas Johansen of Norwegian immigration police told The Associated Press. Norway's VG newspaper said detaining him isn't a punishment, but a security measure.

Medvedev's Norwegian lawyer, Brynjulf Risnes, insisted on broadcaster NRK that his client is not suspected of any offense and that he's unaccustomed to Norway's new, stricter security measures.

Medvedev, who says he fears for his life, is believed to have illegally entered Norway after crossing the country's 198 kilometer-long border with Russia earlier this month.

Medvedev said he left the Wagner Group after his contract was extended beyond the July-November timeline without his consent. He said he's willing to testify about any war crimes he witnessed and denied participating in any.

1426 GMT - Lavrov blames West for no Ukraine talks

Russia was willing to negotiate with Ukraine in the early months of the war, but the United States and other Western nations advised Kiev against holding talks, Moscow's top diplomat has said. 

Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov's remarks on a visit to South Africa were similar to those made last year by President Vladimir Putin.

“It is well known that we supported the proposal of the Ukrainian side to negotiate early in the special military operation and by the end of March, the two delegations agreed on the principle to settle this conflict," Lavrov said.

“It is well known and was published openly that our American, British and some European colleagues told Ukraine that it is too early to deal and the arrangement which was almost agreed was never revisited by the Kiev regime."

1315 GMT - EU ministers approve $544M in military aid to Ukraine

A European Union foreign ministers meeting in Brussels has approved a new tranche of military aid to Ukraine worth $544 million (500 million euros), three diplomatic sources told Reuters. ($1 = 0.9197 euros) 

1305 GMT - Hungary will not block EU to provide military aid to Ukraine 

Hungary will not block the European Union implementing a measure to provide more military aid to Ukraine, Foreign Minister Peter Szijjarto has said in a video on his Facebook page.

Szijjarto spoke as EU foreign ministers met to discuss more military aid for Ukraine. 

1229 GMT - Zelenskyy ally threatens jailings over corruption claims

A top ally of Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy has said corrupt officials would be rounded up and jailed as part of a zero-tolerance policy after the most high-profile graft allegations burst into public view since Russia's February attack.

Ukraine has a long history of battling corruption and shaky governance. Before last year's Russian offensive, fighting corruption was the principal theme for Zelenskyy who promised to clean up Ukraine's notoriously crooked institutions.

On Sunday, anti-corruption police said they had detained the deputy infrastructure minister on suspicion of receiving a $400,000 kickback to facilitate the import of generators into wartime Ukraine last September.

Separately, a newspaper investigation published on Saturday accused the Defence Ministry of overpaying suppliers for food for its soldiers. The ministry said the report contained "signs of deliberate manipulation" and was "misleading".

1217 GMT - Japan sends 237 more generators to Ukraine

Japan says it has sent 237 more generators to Ukraine, which is facing serious power supply issues due to “destruction of a large part of energy infrastructure facilities by Russia’s attacks.”

The generators “have been shipping to Ukraine since January 14 … (and) are to be handed over to companies of electric power, water and gas supply … and to be utilised for securing energy sector,” the Japanese Foreign Ministry said in a statement.

Japan sent 25 generators earlier in December, bringing the overall figure to 262, the statement said.

This is part of Japan’s “support to protect the lives of the people of Ukraine who are in full-fledged winter,” it added.

1212 GMT - Russia claims control of Ukraine's Krasnopolivka village 

Russia has claimed that it took control of the village of Krasnopolivka, north of Soledar city, in eastern Ukraine’s Donetsk region.

A statement by the Russian Defence Ministry read that over 60 Ukrainian military personnel were killed, while “two armored combat vehicles, three vehicles, two MSTA-B and D -30 howitzers, as well as a US-made AN/TPQ-50 counter-battery radars, were destroyed in this direction in a day.”

The statement further claimed that a strike by the Russian military on a temporary deployment point of the Ukrainian army near the village of Marhanets in southeastern Ukraine's Dnipropetrovsk region destroyed a US-made HIMARS multiple launch rocket system.

1206 GMT - Ukraine says pre-accession talks with EU should start this year

Ukrainian Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba has said that pre-accession negotiations with the EU should start this year.

"We are convinced that pre-accession negotiations should begin as soon as possible after Ukraine has implemented the recommendations and the positive assessment of the European Commission," Kuleba said in an online speech at a EU Foreign Affairs Council meeting in Brussels.

"Ukraine is making every effort and I am convinced that we should start pre-accession negotiations by the end of 2023.”

Kiev officially applied for EU membership on February 28, 2022, four days after the start of Russia’s "special military operation" against the country.

1143 GMT - Kremlin not worried over US designation against Wagner Group 

The Kremlin has said that the decision of the US to classify Wagner Group as a “transnational criminal organisation” is unlikely to affect Russia or the group itself.

“I don’t think that this has any practical significance for our country, or even more so for PMC (private military company) Wagner,” Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov said during a press briefing.

US National Security Council spokesperson John Kirby told reporters on Friday that, in addition to the Treasury Department's decision to label Wagner Group as a "significant transnational criminal organisation," the Biden administration will impose economic penalties on the organisation and its "support network" next week.

Known as a Russian private military company, Wagner Group reportedly operates in Ukraine, Syria, Libya and other African countries, including Mali and the Central African Republic.

1150 GMT - Russia says war with the West 'not hybrid any more'

Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov has said that conflict between Moscow and the West could no longer be defined as a "hybrid war", but was closer to a real one, as he blasted the West for sending billions of dollars of arms to Kiev. 

Lavrov made the comments at a news conference during a visit to South Africa, as Poland pushes for more tanks to Ukraine and Germany faces criticism for being too slow in helping Ukraine against Russia.

Polish Prime Minister Morawiecki said earlier that Poland is building a coalition of nations ready to send Leopard 2 battle tanks to Ukraine. However, it needs the consent of Germany, which builds the tanks, to send them to a non-NATO country.

1144 GMT - Russia, Estonia expel ambassadors 

Russia and Estonia have expelledthe ambassadors from each other's countries in a tit-for-tat move, saying that their diplomatic missions will be headed by charges d'affaires.

The Russian Foreign Ministry summoned Estonian Ambassador Margus Laidre and ordered him to leave the country by February 7.

The ministry said that the move was made in retaliation for Estonia’s “new unfriendly step to radically reduce the size of the Russian Embassy in Tallinn.”

In response, Estonian Foreign Minister Urmas Reinsalu said that the Russian ambassador will leave on February 7 as well, in accordance with “the principle of parity."

Latvia has said it will also downgrade diplomatic ties with Russia from February 24 in solidarity with Estonia and due to ongoing 'aggression' in Ukraine, Foreign Minister Rinkevics said.

1047 GMT - South Africa defends military drills with Russia, China

South Africa's foreign minister Naledi Pandor has said after talks with her Russian counterpart Lavrov that joint military drills South Africa will hold with Russia and China next month were part of the "natural course of relations" between countries.

0947 GMT - Issues at Ukraine's Zaporizhzhia concerning: WENRA head

Organisational and management issues at Ukraine's Russian-controlled Zaporizhzhia nuclear power plant are "of increasing concern," Olivier Gupta, head of the Western European Nuclear Regulators' Association (WENRA), said.

Brokering a deal on a safe zone around the Zaporizhzhia nuclear power plant is getting harder because of the involvement of the military in talks, the head of the UN nuclear watchdog Rafael Grossi said earlier this month.

The Soviet-era plant, Europe's largest, was captured by Russian forces in March, soon after their invasion of Ukraine. It has repeatedly come under fire in recent months, raising fears of a nuclear disaster.

0853 GMT - Poland to ask Germany's permission to send tanks to Ukraine

The Polish prime minister didn't specify when the request will be made, but said that Poland is building a coalition of nations ready to send Leopard tanks.

Without elaboration, Morawiecki added Warsaw will take its own decisions, even if there is no permission from Germany. 

Regarding Baerbock’s comments, Morawiecki said that “exerting pressure makes sense” and that her words are a “spark of hope” that Germany may even take part in the coalition.

0807 GMT - Russia's Lavrov visits ally South Africa

Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov has arrived in South Africa for talks with the country's foreign minister, Naledi Pandor, in a trip some opposition parties and the small Ukrainian community in the country have condemned as insensitive.

He and Pandor are expected to hold a joint news conference around 1000 GMT.

President Cyril Ramaphosa's government regards South Africa as neutral in the conflict and has expressed a desire to mediate. 

Even as South Africa has proclaimed impartiality on the conflict and abstained from voting on United Nations resolutions, it has retained close relations with Russia, historically a friend of the governing African National Congress when it was a liberation movement against white minority rule.

South Africa's Foreign Minister Naledi Pandor and Russia's Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov ahead of a bilateral meeting in Pretoria, South Africa on January 23.
South Africa's Foreign Minister Naledi Pandor and Russia's Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov ahead of a bilateral meeting in Pretoria, South Africa on January 23. (Siphiwe Sibeko / Reuters)

0746 GMT - Russia: No date set for talks with US on nuclear arms treaty

Russia has said no new date had been set for talks with the United States on the New START nuclear arms treaty, accusing the US of ramping up tensions between the two sides.

Talks between Moscow and Washington on resuming inspections under the New START nuclear arms reduction treaty were due to take place in November in Egypt, but Russia postponed them and neither side has set a new date for a meeting.

Sergei Ryabkov, the deputy foreign minister, said the conditions were not right for new talks on the treaty, which caps the number of each side's strategic nuclear warheads.

"The situation does not, frankly speaking, allow for setting a new date, ... taking into account this escalation trend in both rhetoric and actions by the United States," Ryabkov was quoted by Interfax as saying.

0800 GMT - Germany would not block Poland's aims to send tanks to Ukraine 

In an apparent shift in Germany's position, foreign minister Annalena Baerbock said her government would not block Poland if it were to send its Leopard 2 tanks without German approval.

"For the moment the question has not been asked, but if we were asked we would not stand in the way," she told France's LCI TV, when asked about her government's reaction to any such Polish decision.

0717 GMT - Russia says weapons deployed at Ukraine nuclear power stations

Russia's foreign intelligence service (SVR) has accused Ukraine of storing Western-supplied arms at nuclear power stations across the country.

In a statement, the SVR said US-supplied HIMARS rocket launchers, air defence systems and artillery ammunition had been delivered to the Rivne nuclear power station in the northwest of Ukraine.

"The Ukrainian armed forces are storing weapons and ammunition provided by the West on the territory of nuclear power plants," it said, adding that an arms shipment to the Rivne power station had taken place in the last week of December.

The claims cannot be independently verified.

0409 GMT - Potanin says sanctions constrain Nornickel

Nornickel boss Vladimir Potanin, one of Russia’s richest men, said the metals giant was reworking its strategy and building closer ties with countries such as China, Türkiye and Morocco because of Western sanctions on the Russian economy.

Potanin told Russia’s RBC television that the impact of sanctions "does not directly affect the life of the company, its survival, but of course it limits its capabilities, including financial ones, and development of those markets in which it has traditionally been present".

0355 GMT - Russia-backed admin visits Soledar

The top Moscow-supported official in the occupied parts of the Donetsk region of eastern Ukraine said that he had visited the town of Soledar that Russia claimed to had captured earlier this month.

Denis Pushilin, a Russian proxy official in eastern Ukraine, published a short video on the Telegram messaging app that showed him driving and walking amidst uninhabited areas and destroyed buildings.

"I visited Soledar today," Pushilin said in an accompanying statement, noting Soledar mines were damaged and "difficult" to descend into.

Ukraine has never publicly said that the town was taken by Russian forces. On Sunday, the general staff of its armed forces said in a daily update that Russian forces had fired on Ukrainian positions in the area.

0310 GMT – Britain’s former PM visits Ukrainian president

Britain’s former Prime Minister Boris Johnson made an unannounced visit to Ukraine’s capital to meet with President Volodymyr Zelenskyy.

Johnson also met with students and lecturers of Taras Shevchenko National University of Kiev and answered their questions, according to the Ukrainian Presidency,

Despite the fact that his country is still at war with Russia, Zelenskyy said he believes that victory can be achieved in 2023 with international assistance.

For his part, Johnson said: "The only way to end this war is for Ukraine to win – and to win as fast as possible. This is the moment to double down and to give the Ukrainians all the tools they need to finish the job."

0300 GMT - Hundreds and thousands dead or wounded: Norway

Russia has suffered 180,000 killed or wounded in Ukraine so far, while the figure for the Ukrainians is 100,000 military casualties and 30,000 dead civilians, according to estimates released by Norway's army chief.

"Russian losses are beginning to approach around 180,000 dead or wounded soldiers," Norwegian Chief of Defence Eirik Kristoffersen said in an interview with TV2, without specifying how the numbers were calculated.

Norway, a country bordering Russia, has been a member of NATO since its founding in 1949.

"Ukrainian losses are probably over 100,000 dead or wounded.

In addition Ukraine has about 30,000 civilians who died in this terrible war," said the Norwegian general.

Moscow and Kiev have not provided reliable accounts for their losses for months.

In November, US army joint chiefs of staff chairman Mark Milley said the Russian army had suffered more than 100,000 dead or wounded, with a "probably" similar toll on the Ukrainian side.

These figures cannot be independently verified by TRT World.

For live updates from Sunday (January 22), click here

Source: TRTWorld and agencies