Russia-Ukraine war updates for Jan. 24, 2024

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    Ukraine suggests Russia failed to provide information on POW route after aircraft downed

    Ukraine on Wednesday suggested Russia failed to inform it of the need to create a safe airspace after a military aircraft was downed, reportedly while carrying 65 Ukrainian prisoners of war ahead of an exchange.

    Ukraine’s intelligence agency said it still did not have reliable and comprehensive information about who was on board and the number of passengers.

    Earlier in the day, Russia accused Ukraine of downing the aircraft, and said 65 Ukrainian prisoners of war and nine Russians were killed.

    Ukraine confirmed an exchange of prisoners was scheduled for Wednesday but one did not take place.

    “For its part, Ukraine has fulfilled all agreements for the preparation of the exchange. The Russian captured servicemen were delivered in time to the designated exchange point, where they were kept safe,” the Ukrainian intelligence department said in a statement.

    “According to the agreements, the Russian side had to ensure the safety of our defenders. At the same time, the Ukrainian side was not informed about the need to ensure the safety of the airspace in the area of the city of Belgorod in a certain period of time, as was repeatedly done in the past.”

    It also said it was not told about the number of vehicles, routes and forms of delivery of the prisoners.

    “This may indicate deliberate actions by Russia aimed at creating a threat to the life and safety of prisoners,” it alleged.

    Ukraine’s army separately said it had been targeting and would continue to target military aircraft crossing the border from Russia’s Belgorod into Ukrainian Kharkiv following a slew of strikes on the region.

    — Jenni Reid

    Ukraine army says it will continue to ‘control the airspace’ in Belgorod-Kharkiv direction

    This photograph taken on January 23, 2024 shows a missile launched from Russia’s Belgorod region flying towards Kharkiv, eastern Ukraine, amid the Russian invasion of Ukraine.

    Vadym Bielikov | AFP | Getty Images

    Ukraine’s army said Wednesday that it would continue to “control the airspace” to reduce the threat of missiles, “including in the Belgorod-Kharkiv direction,” after a Russian military transport plane crashed in the Russian border region of Belgorod.

    “The Armed Forces of Ukraine take all measures to protect Ukraine and Ukrainians,” the general staff said in a statement posted to Facebook, according to an NBC translation.

    It said 16 people had been killed in 19 Russian rocket attacks on the Kharkiv region, which borders Belgorod, in the last week.

    It also said that it monitored the launch points of missiles and their delivery logistics, especially through military aircraft, to reduce to threat of attack.

    “The recorded intensity of shelling is directly related to the increase in the number of military transport planes that have recently been heading to the Belgorod airfield. Taking this into account, the Armed Forces of Ukraine will continue to take measures to destroy means of delivery, control the airspace to destroy the terrorist threat, including in the Belgorod-Kharkiv direction,” the statement continued.

    It did not specifically reference the aircraft which crashed earlier Wednesday, which Russia said was carrying 65 Ukrainian prisoners of war and nine Russians. All passengers died, Belgorod’s governor said.

    — Jenni Reid

    Russian Ministry of Defense statement on plane crash

    Russia’s Ministry of Defense released a statement on Telegram Wednesday, giving more details on the military plane crash in Belgorod in which it said 65 Ukrainian prisoners of war died, as well as nine other Russians. Ukraine has not yet publicly commented on the crash.

    Here is the ministry’s statement in full:

    Today at 11:15 a.m., the Kiev regime committed a terrorist act as a result of which a Russian military transport aircraft was shot down, as it was flying along the route Chkalovsky-Belgorod airfield to transport Ukrainian military personnel for exchange.

    The plane was destroyed by the Ukrainian Armed Forces from the area of Liptsy, Kharkov [Kharkiv] Region, with an anti-aircraft missile system. The radar equipment of the Russian Aerospace Forces observed the launch of two Ukrainian missiles. On board the plane were six crew members, 65 Ukrainian military personnel for the exchange and three Russian military personnel accompanying them. The crew and all passengers of the plane were killed.

    The Ukrainian leadership knew very well that, according to established practice, today Ukrainian military personnel would be transported by military transport aircraft to the Belgorod airfield for exchange.

    According to the previously reached agreement, this event was to take place in the afternoon at the Kolotilovka checkpoint on the Russian-Ukrainian border. And, nevertheless, the Nazi Kiev regime took this step, pursuing the goal to blame Russia for the destruction of the Ukrainian military.

    By committing this terrorist attack, the Ukrainian leadership has showed its true colors — it neglected the lives of its citizens. 

    Russia routinely and baselessly describes the government in Kyiv as a “Nazi regime” in order to demonize its leadership and justify its invasion of Ukraine.

    — Holly Ellyatt

    After plane crash, Russian official blames Kyiv for MH17 disaster and Olenivka massacre

    Russia slammed Ukraine for the shooting down of a Russian military transport plane on Wednesday, with one official baselessly claiming that Ukraine had also been responsible for other plane disasters, including the shooting down of Malaysian jetliner Flight MH17 in 2014.

    Commenting on the downing of a military transport plane Wednesday, that Russia said had 65 Ukrainian prisoners of war on board, Russian Foreign Ministry Ambassador-at-Large Rodion Miroshnik said on Telegram that Kyiv had “committed an act of insane barbarity demonstrating complete disregard for human life.”

    “They violated the agreements, killed our pilots and escort soldiers, and let their own fellow citizens ‘go to waste’,” Miroshnik said on Telegram.

    Russian officials and the defense ministry said Ukraine had shot down the Ilyushin-76 transport plane over the Belgorod region earlier Wednesday. It said all 65 POWs on board had died, as well as nine Russians. The officials said the plane, and another aircraft also carrying POWs, were on their way to a location where a prisoner exchange would take place. Ukraine has not yet officially commented on the incident.

    Miroshnik used the latest incident to try to blame Ukraine for other incidents, including the shooting down of Malaysian jetliner Flight MH17 over eastern Ukraine in 2014 in which 298 passengers died, and an explosion at the Olenivka prisoner of war camp in which at least 50 Ukrainian POWs died.

    The wrecked cockipt of the Malaysia Airlines flight MH17 is presented to the press during a presentation of the final report on the cause of the crash at the Gilze Rijen airbase October 13, 2015.

    Emmanuel Dunand | AFP | Getty Images

    “Kiev began the war in 2014 with the shooting down of the Malaysian passenger airliner MH17, continued by shooting its own prisoners in Yelenovka [Olenivka], and now it has killed 65 of its fellow citizens who were already living in hope of returning to their families,” Miroshnik claimed, without presenting evidence.

    A Dutch court in 2022 convicted two Russian men and a Ukrainian man in absentia of murder for their role in the shooting down of the passenger jet with the court finding that Russia had supplied a Russian-made missile to separatist forces fighting in eastern Ukraine. The missile that was fired brought down flight MH17. Russia denies any involvement in MH17’s downing.

    — Holly Ellyatt

    Belgorod’s governor says all on board were killed in Belgorod plane crash

    The governor of the Belgorod region, where a Russian military transport plane carrying Ukrainian prisoners of war was allegedly shot down on Wednesday, said that all those on board died in the crash.

    “A transport plane crashed in the Korochansky district. It fell in a field near a populated area. Everyone on board died,”  Vyacheslav Gladkov said on Telegram, according to a NBC News translation.

    “The crash site is now cordoned off. All operational services are on site and investigative measures are being carried out. A commission has been sent to the site to establish the causes of the disaster,” he said.

    Russian social media accounts report that sources in the Belgorod region said wreckage from the plane was spread across several kilometers. Unverified videos on social media showed a plane falling from the sky before crashing in a fireball.

    Ukraine has not yet officially commented on the incident and CNBC was unable to immediately verify the reports.

    An infographic titled ‘Russian military plane crashed in Belgorod region” is created in Ankara, Turkiye on January 24, 2024.

    Anadolu | Anadolu | Getty Images

    Several Russian lawmakers have alleged that Ukraine’s armed forces shot down one of two Russian Ilyushin-76 transport planes that were carrying Ukrainian POWs due to be exchanged with Russian prisoners. The lawmakers said that one of the planes was brought down by three Patriot or IRIS-T missiles that Ukraine received from its Western allies.

    — Holly Ellyatt

    Downed Russian plane was part of POW convoy, lawmaker says

    A Russian lawmaker suggested that a Russian military transport plane carrying 65 Ukrainian prisoners of war that was shot down over the Belgorod region Wednesday was part of a two-plane convoy en route to a prisoner swap with Ukraine.

    The Head of the Duma Defense Committee Andrei Kartapolov told the RBC news agency that the Ilyushin-76 military transport plane was “shot down by three Patriot or IRIS-T missiles,” that had been given to Ukraine’s armed forces by its Western allies.

    That plane, he said, was followed by another Il-76 with more prisoners on board, Kartapolov said. The second plane was reportedly diverted.

    “The second Il-76 plane was flying next, which was carrying about 80 more prisoners of war; they managed to turn it around,” Kartapolov said.

    “The Ukrainian leadership was well aware of the impending exchange and was informed of how the prisoners would be delivered,” he said during a speech in the State Duma, according to a NBC News translation of his comments.

    CNBC was unable to verify the claims.

    — Holly Ellyatt

    Russian lawmaker says plane carrying POWs was downed by three missiles

    Andrei Kartapolov, a member of Russia’s State Duma and a retired general, said a military transport plane that crashed in southern Russia on Wednesday was shot down by three missiles of types that the West has supplied to Ukraine.

    Kartapolov did not state the source of his information. He said investigations would reveal whether the missiles were Patriots or IRIS-Ts.

    — Reuters

    Kremlin says it’s looking into plane crash reports

    The Kremlin’s Press Secretary Dmitry Peskov said the Kremlin was looking into reports that a Russian military plane carrying 65 Ukrainian prisoners of war had crashed over the Belgorod region.

    Russia’s Ministry of Defense and domestic media outlets reported earlier that a Russian Ilyushin Il-76 military transport plane crashed near the Ukrainian border on Wednesday. Russian news agency RIA Novosti cited a defense ministry statement saying the plane had 65 POWs on board, as well as a crew of six and three other people.

    When asked by a reporter about the reports, Peskov said it was new information for the Kremlin and it would now “deal with it,” RIA Novosti reported.

    KANT, KYRGZSTAN – JANUARY 7: (—EDITORIAL USE ONLY â MANDATORY CREDIT – “KYRGZSTAN DEFENCE MINISTRY / HANDOUT” – NO MARKETING NO ADVERTISING CAMPAIGNS – DISTRIBUTED AS A SERVICE TO CLIENTS—-) Kyrgyz military vehicles are being loaded onto a Russian military plane Ilyushin IL76, at the airbase in Kyrgyzstan’s Kant city on 07 January 2022. 150 soldiers, 8 armored vehicles and 11 vehicles carrying supplies were sent to Kazakhstan. (Photo by Kyrgyzstan Defence Ministry / Handout/Anadolu Agency via Getty Images)

    Anadolu | Anadolu | Getty Images

    The Il-76 military transport aircraft is designed for transporting personnel, cargo and military equipment and is capable of carrying 126 paratroopers with parachutes, 145 personnel in a single-deck version and 225 in a double-deck version, news agency Interfax noted.

    Its maximum payload is 48 tons and its flight range with a load of 40 tons is 4750 km. It can carry a crew of up to seven people.

    — Holly Ellyatt

    Plane was reportedly carrying 65 prisoners of war

    The Russian Ministry of Defense reportedly said an Il-76 military transport aircraft that crashed in the border Belgorod region was carrying 65 Ukrainian prisoners of war and nine Russians.

    “On January 24, at about 11:00 Moscow time, an Il-76 plane crashed during a scheduled flight in the Belgorod region. On board there were 65 captured military personnel of the Armed Forces of Ukraine transported to the Belgorod region for exchange, 6 crew members of the aircraft and 3 accompanying persons,” the Ministry of Defense said, Interfax news agency said.

    CNBC was unable to verify the reports.

    — Holly Ellyatt

    Russian military transport plane reportedly crashes in Belgorod

    An Ilyushin Il-76 Strategic airlifter performs during the 76th anniversary of Victory Day in Red Square in Moscow, Russia, on May 9, 2021.

    Anadolu Agency | Anadolu Agency | Getty Images

    A Russian military transport plane — an Ilyushin Il-76 — crashed in the border Belgorod region, according to four pro-Kremlin media outlets cited by Reuters.

    The governor of the Belgorod region, Vyacheslav Gladkov, said on Telegram that there had been an “incident” in the Korochansky district of Belgorod, a region in southwestern Russia that has become increasingly a target of Ukrainian attacks. 

    “An investigative team and Emergency Situations Ministry employees are currently working at the scene. I changed my work schedule and went to the area. All details later,” Gladkov said.

    Russian state news agency TASS reported that a “plane crashed in the Belgorod region, doctors and law enforcement officers rushed to the scene, operational services reported.” It did not provide any further detail.

    Gladkov warned Belgorod residents to stay indoors earlier Wednesday amid a missile alert over the region. News agency RIA Novosti reported earlier that the Russian military had intercepted a Ukrainian drone in the village of Blizhnoe near Belgorod. According to preliminary information, there were no casualties.

    — Holly Ellyatt

    Russia carries out more attacks on Kharkiv

    KHARKIV, UKRAINE – JANUARY 23: People are evacuating after a Russian rocket strikes and causes fire as Russia-Ukraine war continues in Kharkiv, Ukraine on January 23, 2024. Russian missile attack targeted the Ukrainian cities of Kyiv, Kharkiv, Pavlohrad, and Balakliia on Tuesday, January 23, killing at least 4 people, wounding several others, and damaging residential buildings. According to an official, nine people were injured in the capital of Kyiv, while 3 people died and 28 people were injured in the attack in Kharkiv. (Photo by Yevhen Titov/Anadolu via Getty Images)

    Anadolu | Anadolu | Getty Images

    Russian forces carried out further strikes on the northeastern city of Kharkiv overnight, regional governor Oleh Synehubov said on Telegram.

    Synehubov said nine people were injured in the latest missile strike on the center of the city. He said a scientific institution was destroyed when a “S-300 rocket hit the roof of the building.”

    “Residential buildings, office premises, cafes, pharmacies and other exclusively civilian infrastructure were damaged,” he said.

    Kharkiv’s Mayor Ihor Terekhov said on Telegram last night that the city was under fire for the third time in a day. He said residential buildings and civil infrastructure were hit and there were no military facilities there.

    Russia carried out large-scale attacks on Kyiv and Kharkiv, Ukraine’s second-largest city, on Tuesday. Ihor Klymenko, Ukraine’s interior minister, said preliminary data showed three people died and around 30 others were injured in the attacks on Kharkiv alone.

    Russia’s Ministry of Defense claimed Tuesday that it targeted “Ukrainian military-industrial complex facilities producing missiles and its parts, ammunition, and explosives.”  

    — Holly Ellyatt

    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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