Russia hits Ukraine with missiles, says promised tanks show U.S., Europe’s “direct involvement” in the war is “growing”


Russia launched a wave of new missile and drone attacks against Ukraine Thursday, reportedly killing at least one person in the capital Kyiv and targeting the country’s already-battered energy infrastructure in southern and central cities. The strikes forced officials to switch off the electricity in a couple regions to cope with reduced capacity.

The air raid sirens wailing across the country, heralding the latest strike, came as Russia reacted to a landmark decision by U.S. President Joe Biden to supply Ukraine with modern, powerful M1 Abrams main battle tanks. 

While the 31 American tanks won’t actually reach the battlefields of eastern Ukraine for months, given the need to train and equip Ukrainian forces to use the advanced hardware, the commitment from Mr. Biden came with a similar promise from Germany to send Leopard 2 tanks to Ukraine — and to permit other European nations to send German-made Leopards from their stocks.

Hundreds of Leopard tanks are sitting in military bases across Europe, and they can be delivered to Ukraine on a shorter timescale than the Abrams.

U.S. to send advanced battle tanks to Ukraine


Both the U.S. and Germany have said the aim is to give Ukrainian forces dozens of tanks, likely about 100, to enable them to punch through Russian front lines and retake occupied territory.

The question is whether the tanks can be deployed in time to help the country stave off a new Russian offensive expected in the coming weeks or months — or to lead the charge in a Ukrainian counteroffensive against Moscow.

Russia sent mixed signals in the wake of the Wednesday announcements by Washington and Berlin, playing down the strategic value of the Western military hardware to Ukraine, but also renewing warnings about the risks of the war growing into a wider regional conflict as NATO states increase their stake in the fight.

“There are constant statements from European capitals, from Washington, that the sending of various weapons systems, including tanks, to Ukraine in no way means the involvement of these countries or the alliance [NATO] in the hostilities that are taking place in Ukraine,” Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov said Thursday. “We categorically disagree with this… everything that the alliance I mentioned and the capital [Washington] does is perceived as direct involvement in the conflict, and we see that it is growing.”

Ukrainian troops dig in for winter defenses


A senior Russian politician and ally of President Vladimir Putin cast a dire warning exactly one week ago of how Moscow might respond to a perceived military defeat in Ukraine.

“The defeat of a nuclear power in a conventional war can trigger a nuclear war,” former Russian President Dmitry Medvedev, who now serves as deputy chairman of the Security Council, said in a post on the Telegram messaging app.

It’s not clear exactly how long it will take European NATO countries to move Leopard 2 tanks into Ukraine in significant numbers and train the country’s forces to use them, but Germany’s leader said that training would begin on German soil within just days.

The battle over territory in Ukraine’s eastern Donbas region, more than half of which is occupied by Russian forces, has been grueling. Tank battles have played out for months, with Ukraine relying on its stocks of Soviet-era hardware.

Ukrainian troops ride a Soviet-era T-80 tank not far from Lyman, in the eastern Donetsk region, January 24, 2023, amid Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.


CBS News national security analyst H.R. McMaster, a former U.S. national security adviser and longtime battlefield commander, says the American tanks in particular — once they arrive — will give Ukraine a much-needed boost in firepower against the Russians.

“If the crew knows what it’s doing, is well trained, does the preps, the fire checks, maintains that tank well, you just can’t miss,” he said, “and everything you hit is catastrophically destroyed.”

The Leopards will also mark a significant upgrade, moving faster and packing more firepower and personnel armor than the tanks Ukraine currently has at its disposal.

But until the machines actually join the fight, the grueling back-and-forth battle — and Russia’s devastating aerial assault — will likely grind on until one side launches a new offensive.  

Ukraine said it shot down the majority of the missiles launched by Russia on Thursday, and all of the drones sent across the border. But the damage from the missile strikes to yet more of Ukraine’s critical energy infrastructure, and the first death in Kyiv in weeks, were reminders that the war Putin launched almost one year ago is far from over.

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