Good morning from Kyiv where the entire country is still reeling from what was the 12th wave of large-scale missile attacks from Russia since October.
The capital was attacked twice on Saturday and, unusually, there was no warning of the first – several explosions rang out moments before the air raid sirens sounded.
Colonel Yuriy Ihnat, a spokesman for the Ukrainian Air Force, said this was likely because Russia used ballistic rather than cruise missiles which are far harder to detect and shoot down.
What’s happening today?
The effects of Saturday’s strikes were far more devastating in Dnipro where at least 35 people are now known to have died after a Russian missile destroyed their apartment block.
The rescue operation is ongoing. Regional adviser Natalia Babachenko said on Sunday evening that "between 30 and 40 people are still under the rubble" so the death toll could well rise further.
Elsewhere there were positive comments from NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg on Sunday when he said Ukraine can soon expect more deliveries of heavy weapons from Western countries.
Speaking ahead of a meeting this week of the Ukraine Defense Contact Group, which coordinates arms supplies to Kyiv, he added: "We are in a decisive phase of the war.
“Therefore, it is important that we provide Ukraine with the weapons it needs to win."
You can read more about that story here.
Russia and Belarus are also starting new joint military exercises on Belarusian territory today. Minsk insists the air drills are defensive and aren’t a pretext for another invasion but the situation is raising concern.
What was in President Zelensky’s latest message?
President Zelensky’s daily address on Sunday obviously focused on events in Dnipro and he gave further details about some of those killed including “one child – a girl, she was 15 years old.”
He added: “There are reports that two children lost their parents. My condolences to all those who lost their loved ones.”
The president also directly addressed the people of Russia, saying: “I want to say to all those in Russia – and from Russia – who even now cannot utter even a few words of condemnation of this terror.
“Even though you see and know everything perfectly well, your cowardly silence, your attempt to ‘wait out’ what is happening, will only end with those same terrorists coming after you one day.
“Evil is very sensitive to cowardice. Evil always remembers those who fear it or try to bargain with it. And when it comes after you, there will be no one to protect you.”
What’s the latest military situation?
The British Ministry of Defense (MoD) update on Jan. 16 focuses on the “intense fighting [continuing] in both the Kremina and Bakhmut sectors of the Donbas front.”
It adds: “As of 15 January 2023, Ukrainian Armed Forces (UAF) almost certainly maintained positions in Soledar, north of Bakhmut, in the face of continued Wagner Group assaults.”
The MoD notes that both Ukraine and Russia have achieved “hard-fought but limited gains in different sectors” and both sides now face a challenge to “generate formations of uncommitted, capable troops which can exploit the tactical successes to create operational breakthroughs”.
The Institute for the Study of War’s Jan. 15 daily assessment is particularly interesting and is a special edition of sorts.
“This report focuses on Russia’s likely preparation to conduct a decisive strategic action in 2023 intended to end Ukraine’s string of operational successes and regain the initiative.”
It’s worth reading in full but notable excerpts include:
· The Kremlin is belatedly taking personnel mobilization, reorganization, and industrial actions it realistically should have before launching its invasion of Ukraine in February 2022, and is therefore taking steps to conduct the “special military operation” as a major conventional war;
· The Kremlin is likely also preparing to conduct decisive strategic action in the next six months intended to regain the initiative and end Ukraine’s current string of operational successes.
And that’s it for today’s Morning Memo.
Kyiv Post will bring you the latest news throughout the day and we’ll be back with another edition tomorrow.
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