Ukraine war live updates: Putin says everything’s going to plan in Ukraine; German defense minister resigns 

Russian President Vladimir Putin said the dynamics of the war in Ukraine, which Moscow calls a “special military operation,” are positive, with everything going according to the defense ministry’s plan. 

Russia’s Defense Ministry said on Friday said Russian forces had captured Soledar in the eastern Donetsk region the previous day, after several days of conflicting reports over whether the town had fallen under Russian control after months of fierce fighting. 

Ukraine has not conceded defeat in Soledar, with President Volodymyr Zelenskyy saying Sunday evening that “the battle for Soledar, for Bakhmut, for the whole Donetsk region, for the Luhansk region continues without any respite, without any stop.” 

Ukraine is reeling from a major Russian missile attack on the city of Dnipro in central Ukraine on Saturday in which 30 people were killed after an apartment block was hit. Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy said Sunday evening that a rescue operation continued as debris was cleared at the site of the strike. 

Kremlin says British tanks ‘will burn’ in Ukraine 

The Kremlin has said heavy armored vehicles supplied to Ukraine “will burn,” days after Britain said it would supply Challenger 2 tanks to the country. 

Kremlin Press Secretary Dmitry Peskov was asked by reporters to comment on recent moves by Ukraine’s Western allies to supply Kyiv with heavier armored vehicles. 

He replied “nothing could change” the intention of Western countries to supply such equipment but that it would not make a difference to the war, or “special military operation,” according to comments reported by state news agency Tass and translated by Google. 

“The special military operation will continue. These tanks are on fire and will burn just like the rest. The goals of the special military operation will be achieved,” he added. 

On Saturday, British Prime Minister Rishi Sunak announced that the U.K. would provide 14 Challenger 2 tanks to Ukraine, making it the first Western country to supply the heavy tanks Kyiv has been repeatedly asking for. 

Russia criticized the move, saying it would only escalate the war. The Russian Embassy in London tweeted that “Challenger 2 tanks will hardly help the Ukrainian military turn the tide in the field. Yet they will become legitimate large-scale targets for Russian forces.” 

The Russian-installed governor of Sevastopol in Crimea said on Monday that air defenses had downed seven drones over the city in what he called a “failed Ukrainian attack.” 

Sevastopol, which is on the Crimean peninsula that Russia annexed in 2014, has come under repeated air attack since Russia invaded Ukraine in Febuary. Russian officials have blamed the attacks on Ukraine. 

Governor Mikhail Razvozhayev said all the drones were downed over the sea, with no damage to any infrastructure. He denied reports in Ukrainian media that there were explosions in the city, and said air defenses were continuing to monitor the skies, in a post on his Telegram channel. 

German Defense Minister Christine Lambrecht has asked Chancellor Olaf Scholz for her dismissal, she said in a statement on Monday, the culmination of growing skepticism about her ability to bring the German army into shape against the backdrop of the Ukraine war. 

“Today I asked the chancellor to dismiss me from the office of federal minister of defence,” Lambrecht, a member of Scholz’s Social Democratic Party (SPD), said in the statement. 

Her decision to step down comes as Germany is under pressure to approve an increase in international military support for Kyiv, and Germany’s defense capabilities have been called into question after several Puma infantry tanks were put out of service during a recent military drill. 

Children’s hospital in Kherson city damaged in attack, official says 

Multiple windows of a children’s hospital in Kherson city in southern Ukraine have been blown out during a Russian attack, according to Kyrylo Tymoshenko, the deputy head of the Office of the President of Ukraine. 

Posting on Telegram, Tymoshenko said the damage had occured when it came under “enemy fire” but gave no further details. 

“This time, they attacked a children’s hospital. As a result, about 30 windows in the neonatal (6-story) building were broken,” he said, according to a Google translation of his comments. 

There is no information about any casualties, he added. CNBC was unable to immediately verify his report. 

Ukraine likely continues to maintain positions in Soledar, UK says 

Britain’s Ministry of Defense said Monday that Ukraine likely maintained positions in Soledar, a town Russia claims to have fully captured. 

The ministry said intense fighting continued in both the Kremina and Bakhmut areas of the Donbas front over the weekend. 

“As of 15 January 2023, Ukrainian Armed Forces (UAF) almost certainly maintained positions in Soledar, north of Bakhmut, in the face of continued Wagner Group [private military company] assaults,” the ministry said in an intelligence update on Twitter. 

Around Kremina, a town in Luhansk around 40 miles north of Bakhmut, fighting has been characterized by a complex series of local attacks and counter-attacks in wooded country, the U.K. said, noting that overall, “the UAF continue to gradually advance their front line east on the edge of Kremina town.” 

“Over the last six weeks, both Russia and Ukraine have achieved hard-fought but limited gains in different sectors,” the ministry noted. 

“In these circumstances, a key operational challenge for both sides is to generate formations of uncommitted, capable troops which can exploit the tactical successes to create operational breakthroughs.” 

Ukraine is reeling from a major Russian missile attack on the city of Dnipro in central Ukraine on Saturday after an apartment block was hit. 

Dnipro’s regional governor Valentyn Reznichenko said in an update on Telegram Monday morning that 35 people had been killed in the attack, including two children. He added that 39 people had been rescued and 75 were known to have been injured in the attack, among them 14 children. 

Ukraine’s emergency services said Sunday that there were 45 reports of missing persons and that “while 11 people have been identified, the fate of 34 people is being clarified.” 

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy said Sunday evening that a rescue operation continued as debris was cleared at the site of the strike, an attack that the president characterized as a terrorist act by Russia. 

“As of now, the fate of more than 30 people who could have been in the house at the time of the terrorists’ missile hit remains unknown,” he said in his daily address. 

“Dozens of people were rescued from the rubble, including six children. We are fighting for every person! The rescue operation will last as long as there is even the slightest chance to save lives.” 

Zelenskyy called on Russians to condemn the attack, stating, “I want to say to all those in Russia – and from Russia – who even now could not utter even a few words of condemnation of this terror… Your cowardly silence, your attempt to “wait out” what is happening will only end with those same terrorists coming after you one day.” 

Ukraine’s Air Force said the apartment block was struck by a Russian Kh-22 missile, an anti-ship missile which is known to be inaccurate. Russia has said previously it does not deliberately target civilians but there have been multiple instances of civilian infrastructure, including schools, residential buildings and hospitals, being hit in missile strikes. 

Everything is going according to plan in Ukraine, Putin says 

Russian President Vladimir Putin said the dynamics of the war in Ukraine, which Moscow calls a “special military operation,” are positive. 

“The dynamics are positive. Everything is developing within the plan of the Defense Ministry and the General Staff. And I hope that our fighters will please us more than once again with the results of their combat work,” Putin said in an interview with the Rossiya-1 TV channel, as reported by state news agency Tass. 

Russia’s Defense Ministry said on Friday said Russian forces had captured Soledar in the eastern Donetsk region the previous day, after several days of conflicting reports over whether the town had fallen under Russian control. 

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