Ukraine Daily Summary - Thursday, January 18

Ukraine uses FrankenSAM hybrid system for first time, downs Russian kamikaze drone -- Putin attempts to destabilize Baltic countries -- Railways in western Russia hit by sabotage attacks -- What happens if the West abandons Ukraine? -- and more

Thursday, January 18

Russia’s war against Ukraine

Aftermath of a Russian attack on the village of Romashkove in Kherson Oblast on Jan. 17, 2024. (Kherson Regional Military Administration / Telegram)

Zelensky says ‘any pressure on journalists unacceptable’ after reported surveillance of Ukrainian investigative outlet. President Volodymyr Zelensky in his nightly address on Jan. 17 briefly commented on the leak of personal videos and calls of staff members of the investigative outlet, saying that “any pressure on journalists is unacceptable.”

Media: Organization that shared personal videos, calls of Ukrainian investigative outlet likely fake. The footage was shared by a supposed “investigative news organization” called Narodna Pravda. Svidomi’s investigation into Narodna Pravda found no evidence of its actual existence.

Reuters: No risk of default for holders of Russian bonds in case of confiscation.

Some Western countries, even those that support confiscating the assets, have expressed concerns over the wider implications of the seizure.

Former NATO chief: Democrats should compromise with Republicans to secure Ukraine aid. U.S. Democrats should negotiate a deal with Republicans to reach a compromise on aid for Ukraine as a Russian victory would ultimately weaken the U.S., former NATO Secretary General Anders Fogh Rasmussen said in an interview with Politico released on Jan. 17.

Media: Sanctions forcing Russian companies out of Cyprus. Russian companies have been increasingly leaving Cyprus as Western sanctions impact their ability to operate, the Russian state-controlled media outlet Kommersant wrote on Jan. 16.

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Minister: Ukraine uses FrankenSAM hybrid system for first time, downs Russian kamikaze drone. Ukraine used the first hybrid air defense system under the FrankenSAM program, a joint project between the U.S. and Ukraine, to shoot down a Shahed drone launched by Russia on Jan. 17, Strategic Industries Minister Oleksandr Kamyshin said on the sidelines of the World Economic Forum in Davos.

Protests break out in Russia’s Bashkortostan republic. The protests broke out as supporters came to the town of Baymak to demonstrate against the authorities’ sentencing of local rights activist Fail Alsynov to four years in prison on charges of “inciting ethnic hatred.”

Freedom of speech committee examining reported surveillance of Ukrainian investigative outlet. Ukraine’s parliamentary committee on freedom of speech is investigating the reported surveillance of investigative outlet, committee head, lawmaker Yaroslav Yurchyshyn, told Radio Free Europe on Jan. 17.

ISW: Putin attempts to destabilize Baltic countries. Russian President Vladimir Putin sets conditions for future escalations in the Baltic countries as part of the alleged plan to weaken the NATO alliance, the Institute for the Study of War (ISW) wrote in its Jan. 16 assessment.

Military intelligence: Railways in western Russia hit by sabotage attacks. Railway tracks in Russia’s Saratov, Yaroslavl, and Nizhny Novgorod oblasts have been targeted in sabotage attacks, Ukraine’s military intelligence agency (HUR) reported on Jan. 17.

Air Force: Ukraine downs 19 of 20 Russian attack drones launched overnight. Ukrainian forces shot down 19 of the 20 Shahed-type attack drones launched by Russia overnight, the Air Force reported on Jan. 17.

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Opinion: What happens if the West abandons Ukraine?

Western leaders are well aware of the dangers of a Russian victory in Ukraine. “When dictators and autocrats are allowed to run roughshod in Europe,” U.S. President Joe Biden recently observed, “the risk rises that the United States gets pulled in directly,” with the “consequences reverberat[ing].

Photo: Sean Gallup/Getty Images

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Ukraine war latest: Russian railways reportedly hit by sabotage attacks; US House Speaker Johnson signals no Ukraine aid currently possible

As U.S. President Joe Biden and top congressional leaders from both parties are set to meet on Jan. 17, Speaker of the House Mike Johnson said that the time is not right for a deal on immigration and border issues that could pave the way for approval of new aid for Ukraine.

Photo: Tom Williams/CQ-Roll Call, Inc via Getty Images

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Human cost of war

RFE/RL journalist wounded in Russian mortar attack in Zaporizhzhia Oblast. RFE/RL said that Yevchyn, who has worked with the outlet since 2018, was injured in the leg by shrapnel from a Russian mortar strike while filming a video near the the front-line city of Robotyne.

Russia attacks Kherson Oblast, killing 1, injuring 5. Russian attacks on multiple settlements in Kherson Oblast killed one person and injured five others, the regional authorities reported on Jan. 17.

General Staff: Russia has lost 372,820 troops in Ukraine. This number includes 730 casualties Russian forces suffered just over the past day.

Russian attacks on Odesa, Kharkiv, Kherson Oblast injure 23 over past day. Russian attacks against Ukraine injured 23 people over the past 24 hours, regional authorities reported early on Jan. 17.

International response

Bulgaria has yet to send Ukraine pledged armored vehicles. Bulgarian Defense Minister Todor Tagarev said the delay in delivering the vehicles was related to shipping costs.

Energy giant DTEK presses international partners to encourage flow of private capital to Ukraine. “Defending our economy is one of the crucial ways to win this war. Ukraine has the companies in place to do that, with large-scale, bankable projects. But now we need the capital to execute and this is where we need help from governments and international financial institutions,” DTEK CEO Maksym Timchenko said.

German parliament rejects motion to deliver Taurus missiles to Ukraine. German lawmakers rejected a proposal from the Christian Democratic Union (CDU) and Christian Social Union in Bavaria (CSU) parties on transferring long-range Taurus missiles to Ukraine, the Bundestag said on Jan. 17.

House Speaker Johnson says no deal on border, Ukraine aid currently possible ahead of meeting in White House. Even as U.S. President Joe Biden and top congressional leaders from both parties are set to meet on Jan. 17, Speaker of the House Mike Johnson said that the time is not right for a deal on immigration and border issues that could pave the way for approval of new aid for Ukraine.

Germany delivers tank ammunition, vehicles to Ukraine. Germany has handed over ammunition for Leopard 1 tanks, as well as helmets, drones, and vehicles to Ukraine, the German government announced on Jan. 17

European Commission to define negotiation framework of Ukraine’s EU accession talks. The European Commission prepares for accession talks with Ukraine and Moldova by working on a negotiation framework, Commission President Ursula von der Leyen said on Jan. 17.

Reuters: BlackRock, JPMorgan Chase helping Kyiv raise funds for reconstruction bank. The Ukrainian government has joined forces with banks BlackRock and JPMorgan Chase to launch a reconstruction bank, and already gathered $500 million in committed capital, Reuters reported on Jan. 17.

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