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Ukraine updates: US trains Ukrainian forces in Germany

January 16, 2023

The top US general is observing new, expanded combat training for Ukrainian forces in Germany. The German foreign minister is exploring ways to bring Russian President Putin to justice in The Hague. DW has the latest.

 A US soldier watches on as a tank fires at the Grafenwöhr training area
Ukrainian troops have already received US weapons training in Grafenwöhr, as here last MayImage: U.S. Army/ZUMA Press/picture alliance

The US military's chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, General Mark Milley, is visiting the Grafenwöhr training area in southern Germany on Monday to observe a program that trains Ukrainian forces. 

The US military started giving hundreds of Ukrainian soldiers new combined arms training in Germany on Sunday to aid the troops in defending their homeland against Russian invasion, the top US military official said. Milley added the goal was to get some 500 troops combat-ready within five-to-eight weeks.

Milley told reporters traveling with him that the training was vital in aiding Ukraine's forces to recapture territory seized by Russia in past months, the Associated Press reported. 

"This support is really important for Ukraine to be able to defend itself,'' Milley said. "And we're hoping to be able to pull this together here in short order.''

He said he hoped the newly trained troops would be able to use freshly delivered Western weaponry and equipment before rainy weather sets in during the spring.

A full set of weapons and equipment is being provided to the Ukrainian soldiers in Germany. 

The combined arms training provided in Germany will give participants the ability to launch offensives against the invading Russian forces and counter their attacks.

Among other things, the training aims to improve the movement and coordination of large units of ground forces backed by artillery and armor.

The training will culminate in a complex combat exercise involving an entire battalion and a headquarters unit.

The US has already trained more than 3,100 Ukrainian troops on how to use and maintain certain weapons and other equipment, including howitzers, armored vehicles and the High Mobility Artillery Rocket System, known as HIMARS.

Fighting crime in liberated Ukrainian territories

Here are other updates concerning the war in Ukraine on Monday January 16:

US top official stresses 'commitment to Ukraine' during Kyiv visit

US Deputy Secretary of State Wendy Sherman stressed her country's "strong and steadfast commitment to Ukraine and its defense against Russia's unprovoked aggression" during a visit to Kyiv on Monday.

Sherman traveled to the Ukrainian capital with Principal Deputy National Security Advisor Jon Finer, and Under Secretary of Defense Colin H. Kahl.

They met Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy and other senior Ukrainian officials.

In a meeting with Ukrainian Prime Minister Denys Shmyhal, the US officials discussed ways to develop both countries' trade and investment partnership.

They also discussed ways to repair Ukraine's energy system, which is subject to recurring Russian attacks.

Prior to their stop in Kyiv, the US officials stopped in Germany and Poland "to review US security assistance to Ukraine," the State Department said.

Ukrainian soliders arrive in US for Patriot system training

Ukrainian troops have arrived at the US Army Air Defense Artillery school in Oklahoma, commander Colonel Curtis King confirmed to local media.

Although King did not confirm the number of troops, local journalists put it at about 100. King did say that the soliders were there to be trained in "operator and maintainer tasks for the Patriot Air Defense System."

It is hoped that Kyiv can use the system to prevent Russian missile attacks, such as the one that just killed 40 people in an apartment building in the city of Dnipro.

The training comes after setbacks on the battlefield have prompted Russian forces to increasingly hit infrastructure and civilian targets, causing a renewd push from Kyiv for military equipment it has long asked for from allies.

UK: If Germany supplies tanks, others will follow

Britain on Monday urged Germany to approve the supply of Leopard 2 tanks to Kyiv, saying it would encourage other nations to follow suit.

"It has been reported that obviously Poland is very keen to donate some Leopards, as is Finland," British Defense minister Ben Wallace told the UK lawmakers.

"All of this currently relies on the German government's decisions. Not only whether the Germans will supply their own Leopards, but whether or not they'll give permissions to others. I would urge my German colleagues to do that," he said.

Germany has been hestitant to supply tanks despite urging from other European countries, saying there needs to be a concrete agreement between allies to offer similar supplies — particulary with the United States.

This has been further complicated by the Monday resignation of German Defense Minister Christine Lambrecht.

 "I know there have been concerns in the German political body that they don't want to go alone. Well, they're not alone," Wallace said, promising to press the matter at a meeting of allies in Germany on Friday.

Wallace also announced the UK's "most significant package of combat power to date" for Ukraine, including a squadron of "Challenger 2 tanks with armored recovery and repair vehicles.

Other weapons in the package included hundreds more armored and protective vehicles, multiple launch rocket systems, and 100,000 artillery rounds. 

Death toll in Dnipro attack rises 

The death toll from a Russian rocket strike on a residential building in the Ukrainian city of Dnipro has risen to at least 40, with three children among the dead, city official Gennadiy Korban said Monday. 

Earlier on Monday, regional governor Valentyn Reznichenko had put the death toll at 35. "Thirty-nine people were saved, 75 were injured," Reznichenko said on social media. 

He added the fate of a further 35 residents of the building remains unclear, with rescue efforts continuing nearly 40 hours after the attack.

An earlier toll from rescuers had stood at 30.

Emergency workers carry a wounded woman after a Russian rocket hit a multistory building on Saturday in Dnipro, Ukraine on Sunday
Emergency workers have been looking for survivors Image: Yevhenii Zavhorodnii/AP Photo/picture alliance

The European Union has strongly condemned the strike, with a foreign affairs spokesperson saying that Russia was continuing "to show its inhuman face" and making indiscriminate use of "brutal missile terror."

Sweden, which holds the EU presidency, described the strike as a "war crime," with Prime Minister Ulf Kristersson saying all "intentional attacks against civilians" came into that category.

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy on Sunday also slammed the Russian people's "cowardly silence" over the attack. He said Ukraine had otherwise received messages of sympathy from around the world over "this terror."

Moscow has denied attacking the building. Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov said the "situation" in Dnipro was the result of Ukrainian countermissiles and air defense.

Putin voices frustration over arms deliveries to Ukraine in call with Erdogan

Russian President Vladimir Putin slammed growing Western arms supplies to Ukraine during a phone call with Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan on Monday, the Kremlin said.

According to a readout of the call, Putin accused Ukraine of "intensifying hostilities" with the "support of Western sponsors who are ramping up the supplies of weapons and military equipment."

The call comes two days after a Russian rocket barrage struck an apartment building in the city of Dnipro, killing at least 40 people, according to Ukrainian authorities.

Erdogan's office said that the Turkish president has renewed his offer to help mediate an end to the conflict.

"During the call, President Erdogan reiterated that Turkey is ready to undertake the task of facilitating and mediating for the establishment of a lasting peace between Russia and Ukraine," Erdogan's office said.

The Kremlin said Putin and Erdogan also discussed a possible exchange of Russian and Ukrainian prisoners of war, including wounded soldiers. It added the export of Ukrainian grain from Black Sea ports and ways to unblock fertilizer and food exports from Russia were also discussed.

German foreign minister at Hague suggests special Ukraine tribunal

German Foreign Minister Annalena Baerbock has called for a special international tribunal to "bring Russian leaders to justice" over the war in Ukraine.

What is needed is "a tribunal that can investigate the Russian leadership and put them on trial", said Baerbock in a keynote speech at the Academy of International Law in The Hague, where the International Criminal Court (ICC) is based.

Russia is not a member of the ICC, and, as one of the five veto-wielding permanent members of the Security Council, would probably block any referral to the ICC.

"We talked about working with Ukraine and our partners on the idea of setting up a special tribunal for crimes of aggression against Ukraine," Baerbock said.

She added that it was "important for us to have an international component, for example, a location outside Ukraine, with financial support from partners and with international prosecutors and judges, to underpin the impartiality and legitimacy of this court."

German defense minister resigns after Ukraine criticism

Germany's Defense Minister Christine Lambrecht has resigned after weeks of public questioning of her competence that reached a peak following what was seen by many as a tone-deaf New Year's Eve message touching on Russia's invasion of Ukraine.

Christine Lambrecht giving a press statement
Lambrecht made an number of gaffes during her time in the positionImage: Kay Nietfeld/dpa/picture alliance

Lambrecht was slammed not only for her comments in that Instagram video, in which she said — speaking against a background of exploding fireworks — that the war had given her "a lot of special impressions," but also for her management of German arms deliveries to Ukraine.

Berlin has faced frequent criticism from several quarters that it has been slow to provide weaponry to Ukrainian forces as they defend their country against Moscow's troops.

UK foreign minister says he's been sanctioned by Russia

British Foreign Minister James Cleverly said the Russian government has sanctioned him.

"Good," he wrote on Twitter. "If this is the price for supporting Ukrainian freedom, then I'm happy to be sanctioned."

Russia and Belarus start military drills

Russia and Belarus began joint miiltary drills on Monday, heightening concern in Kyiv and the West that a new Russian offensive may be launched with support from its ally.

Belarus has maintained that the air drills, scheduled to take place from January 16 to February 1, are purely defensive in character.

Ukraine has issued continual warnings that more attacks may come from Belarusian territory.

Russia used its neighbor Belarus as one starting point for its attempted invasion of Ukraine last February.

Belarus has held a number of military drills since the invasion began, both alone and with Russia.

There have also been unofficial reports of military equipment and fighters arriving in Belarus since the start of the year.

Polish PM calls on Germany to deliver 'all sorts of weapons' to Ukraine

Polish Prime Minister Mateusz Morawiecki has used a keynote speech in Germany to call on Berlin to end its reluctance to deliver heavy weaponry, such as battle tanks, to Ukraine.

At a ceremony marking former Finance Minister Wolfgang Schäuble's 50 years in parliament, Morawiecki called “for decisive actions by the German government, for all sorts of weapons to be delivered. The battle for freedom and our future is raging as we speak.”

"Tanks must not be left in storehouses, but placed in their hands," he told the mostly conservative lawmakers attending the event.

Berlin is coming under pressure, notably from Poland, to send battle tanks to Ukraine to help defend against the Russian invasion. The UK's pledge over the weekend to send 14 of its Challenger 2 tanks to aid Kyiv's troops has increased that pressure.

Earlier, Morawiecki said he would continue pressing his demands for further World War II reparations from Germany, after his ruling Law and Justice party (PiS) in October made a formal demand for €1.3 trillion (about $1.4 trillion) in compensation for harm inflicted on Poland during the war.

Germany has rejected the demand, saying the issue has been settled.

Finland's defense minister, Mikko Savola, has meanwhile said that its position on sending German-made Leopard tanks to Ukraine depends on Germany's decision, adding that such deliveries would require a permit from Berlin.

'Growing chorus of voices' call for Leopard export approval

Ukraine outbound cargo ship runs aground in Bosporus

A cargo ship carrying 13,000 metric tons (14,330 US tons) of peas from Ukraine has run aground in the Bosporus Strait, the waterway between the Black Sea and the Mediterranean.

The strait was temporarily closed after the Palau-flagged freighter MKK-1 stranded near Umuryeri, Turkish coastal authorities announced on Twitter on Monday. Media reports said it was refloated with the help of Turkish tugboats a few hours later.

The ship was sailing under the terms of an internationally brokered grain deal between Russia and Ukraine amid Moscow's invasion of its neighbor.

Ukraine says expecting EU funds soon

Ukraine is expecting to receive the first €3 billion ($3.25 billion) instalment from an €18 billion financial assistance package from the European Union this week, Ukraine's prime minister, Denys Shmyhal, said on Monday.

"Ukraine and the EU have just signed a Memorandum of Understanding on the provision of 18 billion (euros) in macro-financial assistance," Shmyhal wrote on Twitter.

The EU reached an agreement to provide the financing to Ukraine at a summit last month. The package aims to aid the country to maintain economic stability amid fallout from the Russian invasion, now in its 11th month.

tj,es/ar (dpa, AP, AFP, Reuters)