Good morning from Kyiv.

 There are reports this morning that at least 18 people have died following a helicopter crash in the vicinity of a kindergarten in Brovary, east of the capital. Nine were reportedly on board the helicopter, including several representatives from Ukraine’s Ministry of Internal Affairs. At least three children are understood to have been killed as a result of the crash, with more than two dozen injured. Kyiv Post will bring you more on this breaking story as it develops.

 In other news, Russian President Vladimir Putin will make an “important statement” about his invasion of Ukraine later today. It will be delivered in St. Petersburg in commemoration of the 80th anniversary of Soviet forces breaking the Nazi siege of Leningrad, Putin’s hometown.

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 Given that such speeches usually mark major shifts in Russian policy towards its invasion of Ukraine – not least the launch of it last year – his words will be closely watched in the capital and beyond.

 What else is happening today?

 Elsewhere, there’s some confusion this morning over comments made by Dutch Prime Minister Mark Rutte at the White House on Tuesday evening.

 Rutte appeared to suggest the Netherlands would send a Patriot missile defense battery to Ukraine but in later comments, said "it doesn't have to be a whole system." He added: "It could also be gear as part of the system."

Russia Says Seized Village in East Ukraine's Donetsk Region
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Russia Says Seized Village in East Ukraine's Donetsk Region

The General Staff of the Armed Forces of Ukraine has yet to comment on this information.

 President Volodymyr Zelensky appeared to indicate the first option was on the cards, declaring in his daily address: "Another Patriot battery will be provided to Ukraine. Thanks Mark!"

 You can read more about that story here.

 And looking far beyond just today, could Russian President Vladimir Putin one day stand in the dock in The Hague?

 It’s an often-asked question these days and the prospect seemed to move closer this week after Germany backed a special court for the invasion of Ukraine.

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 Here’s a deep-dive into whether or not that might actually happen.

 What was in President Zelensky’s latest message?

 Aside from his enthusiastic endorsement of a possible Patriot battery from the Netherlands, Zelensky also highlighted the work of his wife Olena who is currently at the annual World Economic Forum meeting in Davos.

 He said: “It is very important that the First Lady of Ukraine presented all the elements of our Peace Formula in Davos today, including the fundamental clause on justice, which envisages full liability of Russian terrorists for everything they have done.

 “I am confident that following this week, the world will see more active and influential supporters of the establishment of a Tribunal for Russian aggression and a special mechanism to compensate for the losses from the war at the expense of Russian assets.

 “And the world's support for our diplomatic initiative is very much felt.”

 What’s the latest military situation?

 The British Ministry of Defense (MoD) update on Jan. 18 examines the situation in Soledar, concluding that as of Jan. 16, “Ukrainian forces had highly likely withdrawn from the Donbas town of Soledar, leaving Russian military and Wagner Group proxy forces in control.”

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 The MoD states that Ukrainian forces have set up new defensive positions to the west of the town.

 It adds: “Russia’s advance on Soledar primarily consisted of Wagner forces and was a supporting operation aimed to enable the eventual envelopment of the larger settlement of Bakhmut.

 “One of Ukraine’s two main supply routes into Bakhmut is now under increasing pressure.”

 The Institute for the Study of War’s Jan. 17 daily assessment covers a multitude of topics, most notably:

·       Putin may announce a second mobilization wave to expand his army in the coming dayspossibly as early as January 18;

·       The Russian Ministry of Defense (MoD) is trying to improve professionalism within the Russian armed forces and likely test and improve the effectiveness of its chains of command down to the small unit level; and

·       Serbian President Alexander Vucic called on the Wagner Group to cease recruitment in Serbia on Jan. 16.

 And that’s it for today’s Morning Memo.

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 Kyiv Post will bring you the latest news throughout the day and we’ll be back with another edition tomorrow.

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