Good morning from Kyiv. A short run of quiet days came to an end on Thursday morning when a country-wide air raid alert was issued which, fortunately, was not accompanied by an attack by Russia.

 The capital currently has an important visitor in the form of President of the European Council, Charles Michel, who praised all Ukrainians "fighting for their land, fighting for their future and the future of their children".

 And it was confirmed on Thursday that Kyiv recently hosted Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) Director William Burns, who, in his second secret trip to Kyiv in just over two months, briefed President Volodymyr Zelensky on how the U.S. sees Russia as setting its military plans in the coming weeks and months.

 What’s happening today?

 All eyes in Ukraine will be on the Ramstein air base in Germany where today representatives from 50 countries will meet to discuss what further support Ukraine will receive to help it fight back against Russia’s full-scale invasion.

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 The major topic of conversation is whether or not Germany will finally give countries permission to supply Kyiv with its Leopard-2 heavy tanks – something Berlin has so far been afraid to commit to.

 But Friday’s meeting comes amid mounting pressure from Germany’s European and U.S. allies and either way, there will be big news today. You can read more about that story here.

 What was in President Zelensky’s latest message?

Russian Troops Claim to Grab Ground in Surprise Assault, Threaten Breakthrough in Battleground Avdiivka
Other Topics of Interest

Russian Troops Claim to Grab Ground in Surprise Assault, Threaten Breakthrough in Battleground Avdiivka

A few Russian milbloggers said the Ukrainian line was smashed and Kremlin troops are advancing unopposed. That turns out to be fake news. On Tuesday neither side owned the village.

 Tanks. It’s all about tanks today. Ahead of the Ramstein meeting, Zelensky made another appeal to Ukraine’s western allies to send heavy machinery.

 “The key task of our state, all of us and our partners, is to [make Russia realize] they will not be able to achieve anything in Ukraine,” he said during his daily address on Thursday evening.

 “No matter how much time they spend on the war, no matter how much effort they expend and how many of their people the Kremlin's masters throw on the battlefield,” he added.

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 What’s the latest military situation?

 The British Ministry of Defense (MoD) update on Jan. 20 focuses on Yevgeny Prigozhin and his Wagner Group fighters that are playing an ever-increasing role in Russia’s on-going war in Ukraine.

 The MoD notes that Prigozhin “only admitted to founding Wagner in September 2022” and just a month later “opened a glossy HQ in St Petersburg.” In December 2022, Wagner formally registered itself as a legal entity in Russia, declaring its core activity as “management consultancy.”

 Wagner fighters have played a leading role in the Kremlin’s military efforts in the Bakhmut area.

 The MoD adds: “Wagner almost certainly now commands up to 50,000 fighters in Ukraine and has become a key component of the Ukraine campaign.

 “The registration likely aims to maximize Prigozhin’s commercial gain and to further legitimize the increasingly high-profile organization.”

 The Institute for the Study of War’s Jan. 19 daily assessment covers a multitude of topics, most notably:

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·       Senior Kremlin officials continue holding high-level meetings with the Belarusian national leadership – activity that could be setting conditions for a Russian attack against Ukraine from Belarus, although not necessarily and not in the coming weeks.

·       The Kremlin continues to falsely promote a narrative that the war will escalate if Ukraine receives weapons with the capability to strike Russian forces in occupied Crimea.

·       Russian President Vladimir Putin is increasingly siding with the enemies of Wagner Group financier Yevgeny Prigozhin, likely in an ongoing effort to reduce Prigozhin’s influence in Russia.

 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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