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18 dead, 130 injured in latest Russian missile strikes

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy said Russian missile strikes on major Ukrainian cities Tuesday killed 18 people and injured more than 130.

Speaking in his nightly video address, the president said more than 200 sites were struck, including 139 residences.

Kyiv and Kharkiv, Ukraine’s largest cities, were the main targets of Russian strikes Tuesday, with Ukrainian officials detailing increasing numbers of casualties throughout the day, as well as ongoing efforts to rescue civilians trapped under damaged or collapsed buildings.

Rescuers are searching for people under the rubble at a residential building damaged in the Russian missile attack in Kharkiv, Ukraine, on January 23, 2024. The Russian missile strike, which occurred on Tuesday morning, has claimed the lives of seven people and left 63 people injured in the northeastern Ukrainian city. (Photo by Ukrinform/NurPhoto via Getty Images)

Nurphoto | Nurphoto | Getty Images

Ukraine’s air force said Tuesday that 21 out of 41 Russian missiles of various types had been destroyed. “A significant number of missiles were shot down. Unfortunately, there were also hits,” Zelenskyy said.

Russia’s Defense Ministry commented on the strike Tuesday, stating that “in the morning, the Russian Armed Forces delivered a group strike by high-precision long-range air- and ground- based weapons at Ukrainian military-industrial complex facilities producing missiles and its parts, ammunition, and explosives.”  

The Kremlin denied the attacks targeted civilians or were carried out in response to an alleged Ukrainian attack on a marketplace in Russian-occupied Donetsk on Sunday in which 27 people died and 26 were injured.

— Holly Ellyatt

After months of hesitation, Turkey approves Sweden’s membership of NATO

A general view of the General Assembly of the Turkish Grand National Assembly (TGNA) during the debate on the Bill on the Approval of the Ratification of the Protocol on Sweden’s Accession to the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) in Ankara, Turkiye on January 23, 2024. (Photo by Metin Aktas /Anadolu via Getty Images)

Metin Aktas | Anadolu | Getty Images

Turkish legislators on Tuesday endorsed Sweden’s membership in NATO, lifting a major hurdle on the previously nonaligned country’s entry into the military alliance.

The legislators ratified Sweden’s accession protocol by 287 votes to 55, with four abstentions. The ratification will come into effect after its publication in the Official Gazette, which is expected to be swift.

Hungary then becomes the only NATO ally not to have ratified Sweden’s accession.

NATO-member Turkey had been delaying Sweden’s membership for more than a year, accusing the country of being too lenient toward groups that Ankara regards as security threats. It has been seeking concessions from Stockholm, including a tougher stance toward Kurdish militants militants and members of a network that Ankara blames for a failed coup in 2016.

Read more here: Turkey’s parliament approves Sweden’s NATO membership, lifting key a hurdle

— Reuters

U.S. Defense Secretary Austin urges allies to ‘dig deep’ on Ukraine support

U.S. Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin testifies at a Senate Appropriations Committee hearing on Capitol Hill October 31, 2023 in Washington, DC.

Drew Angerer | Getty Images News | Getty Images

U.S. Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin on Tuesday urged members of the Ukraine Defense Contact Group to “dig deep” as allies kicked off their latest meeting — even as the future of U.S. military funding remains in limbo.

Russian President Vladimir “Putin hopes that missiles and drones will demoralize the Ukrainian people, and break the fighting spirit of the Ukrainian military. So I urge this group to dig deep to provide Ukraine with more lifesaving ground-based air-defense systems and interceptors,” Austin said in opening remarks.

He pointed to the $250 million package announced by the U.S. in late December, which included air-defense munitions, air-defense system components and various ammunition.

He added there had been no “credible evidence” of the misuse or illicit diversion of U.S. equipment, and that Ukraine was using it to defend itself against Russia.

Austin also praised allies for their contributions, and singled out “significant announcements” by Estonia, Germany, Latvia, Lithuania, the Netherlands, Norway, Sweden and the United Kingdom.

The U.S. government warned that the December package would be the final one as long as a budget that would approve the release of further funds remains in poitical limbo. Congress has still not passed the bill, which includes $110 billion for both Ukraine and Israel.

— Jenni Reid

NATO’s Stoltenberg says Russian strikes show need to strengthen Ukraine’s air defense

NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg said Tuesday that “massive” Russian strikes show the need to strengthen Ukraine’s air defenses.

His comments came during the Ukraine Defense Contact Group as it held its 18th meeting virtually. The U.S.-led group comprises more than 50 countries which are supporting Ukraine through the provision of military equipment.

Allies have already delivered a range of air defense systems, including Patriots, IRIS-T and NASAMS, while NATO is providing winter equipment, demining equipment and fuel.

Stoltenberg said NATO would support an increase in ammunition production and announced it had concluded contracts to purchase roughly 220,000 155-millimetre artillery shells worth $1.2 billion to replenish allied stocks as they send their own to Ukraine.

— Jenni Reid

Putin’s visit to North Korea unlikely to take place soon, Kremlin says

Russian President Vladimir Putin (R) and North Korean leader Kim Jong-un (L) visit a construction site of the Angara rocket launch complex on September 13, 2023 in Tsiolkovsky, Russia.

Contributor | Getty Images News | Getty Images

Russian President Vladimir Putin’s visit to North Korea is unlikely to take place before the presidential election in March, the Kremlin’s press secretary said Tuesday.

“In North Korea, no, these are more promising plans. We proceed from the fact that when the schedules are agreed upon, the president will take advantage of this proposal,” the Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov told reporters, Russian news agency TASS said, when answering the question whether this trip could take place before Russia’s presidential elections in March.

Asked about the likelihood of Putin’s visit to Turkey before the presidential elections, Peskov said that it was possible. 

“Yes, we proceed from the fact that it [the visit] can take place before the elections,” he said. 

— Holly Ellyatt

6 killed, 73 injured in latest Russian strikes, Zelenskyy says

Ukraine’s President Volodymyr Zelenskyy said rescue operations are continuing in Ukraine after a barrage of Russian strikes on major cities, including Kyiv and Kharkiv.

“The rescue operation continues after another Russian attack against our cities and people – deliberate terror against ordinary residential buildings in Kyiv, Kharkiv, Pavlograd. Unfortunately, there are casualties and deaths,” Zelenskyy said on Telegram.

A law enforcement officer stands among the remains of an undetonated rocket next to a residential building following a missile attack in Kyiv on January 23, 2024. Dozens of people were injured and least four killed after a wave of Russian missiles targeted Kyiv and other cities across Ukraine, setting residential buildings ablaze and reducing others to rubble. (Photo by Genya SAVILOV / AFP) (Photo by GENYA SAVILOV/AFP via Getty Images)

Genya Savilov | Afp | Getty Images

In Kyiv, 22 people are now known to have been injured as a result of the shelling in the early hours, the president said. Meanwhile, preliminary data from Kharkiv showed five people were killed and 51 people, including four children, were injured. One person died in strikes on Pavlohrad in Dnipro, central Ukraine.

“Our heroic rescuers, those who are always the first to arrive at the sites of enemy shelling, despite all the difficulties, continue their very important work for the sake of saving people,” Zelenskyy said.

Russia says it does not deliberately target civilians in the war.

— Holly Ellyatt

Russia says latest strikes weren’t revenge for Donetsk market attack

Russia’s Ministry of Defense and the Kremlin commented on the latest missile strikes on Ukraine Tuesday, denying that civilians had been targeted in the attacks.

In a statement on Telegram, Russia’s defense ministry commented that “in the morning, the Russian Armed Forces delivered a group strike by high-precision long-range air- and ground- based weapons at Ukrainian military-industrial complex facilities producing missiles and its parts, ammunition, and explosives.”  

“The goal of the strike has been achieved. All the assigned targets have been engaged,” the ministry said, without providing further details.

Ukraine’s President Volodymyr Zelenskyy said six people had been killed in the latest strikes, which targeted Kyiv, Kharkiv and other areas of Ukraine, and 73 people had been injured, some seriously.

KYIV, UKRAINE – JANUARY 23: Firefighters extinguish burning cars on the site of a missile fragments felling in the yard of residential high-rise buildings in the Sviatoshynskyi district on January 23, 2024 in Kyiv, Ukraine. Russian strategic aviation launched a massive missile strike on the Ukrainian cities. In Kyiv, missile fragments fell in Sviatoshynskyi, Pecherskyi, Solomianskyi and Darnytskyi districts, leaving civilians injured and residential and infrastructure buildings damaged. (Photo by Kostiantyn Huzenko/Global Images Ukraine via Getty Images)

Global Images Ukraine | Global Images Ukraine | Getty Images

The Kremlin’s Press Secretary Dmitry Peskov denied that the latest strikes were further retaliation for an alleged Ukrainian strike on a marketplace in the Russian-occupied city of Donetsk in eastern Ukraine on Saturday in which 26 people died.

Asked by a reporter whether the shelling of Kyiv and Kharkiv could be called a response to the Donetsk shelling, Peskov said “no we can’t [call it that]. We continue the SMO [special military operation] and we don’t strike civilian targets – this is what makes us different from the Kyiv regime,” he said.

Russia and Ukraine both deny deliberately targeting civilian infrastructure in the war.

— Holly Ellyatt

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