Good morning from Kyiv where temperatures are hovering around freezing ahead of a welcome but unseasonably warm weekend – good news for some of the more exotic stars of Kyiv Zoo.

Also welcome has been the sound of silence – the air sirens in the capital haven’t blared since Russia’s most recent attack on Monday.

What’s happening today?

Ukrainians may well be waking up with a few raised eyebrows as they digest the latest comments from Pope Francis about their country.

Speaking during a service in Rome on Thursday evening, he briefly broke down and wept as he described “that tormented land”.

Why the raised eyebrows? Well, Pope Francis has built quite a reputation this year for saying things that, far from raising solidarity with and expressing sympathy for the Ukrainian people, have instead echoed Kremlin talking points.

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You can read more about that story here.

There’s also been a lot of reaction to the news that U.S. basketball player Brittney Griner has been released from jail in a one-for-one prisoner swap for the notorious Russian arms dealer, Viktor Bout.

Without any sense of irony whatsoever, Donald Trump described it as “a 'stupid' and unpatriotic embarrassment for the U.S.!!!

What was in Volodymyr Zelensky’s latest message?

President Zelensky announced four police officers killed by a mine in Kherson have been  posthumously awarded the title of Hero of Ukraine.

Ukraine's Precipice
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Ukraine's Precipice

The $61-billion military aid package from the United States, if passed as expected, will allow the Armed Forces of Ukraine to bomb troops and operations behind enemy lines.

He went on to say this “form of Russian terror” will affect areas occupied by the Kremlin’s forces “for years to come.”

“Terrorists deliberately try to leave behind as many death traps as possible,” he said. “Buried landmines, tripwire mines, mined buildings, cars and infrastructure... This is more than 170 thousand square kilometers of dangerous territory.”

He vowed to make sure Russia is specifically held accountable for “mine terror” which he describes as “even more cruel and meaner” than mass missile attacks.

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What’s the latest military situation?

The British Ministry of Defence (MoD) focuses on the re-emergence of the threat from Iranian-supplied kamikaze drones.

Unverified reports of attacks using the weapons are the first since Nov. 17, indicating “Russia exhausted its previous stock of several hundred Shahed-131s and 136s and has now received a resupply”. 

The Institute for the Study of War’s Dec. 8 daily assessment covers a multitude of topics, most notably:

·       Chairman of the U.S. Joint Chiefs of Staff General Mark Milley stated that fighting in Ukraine may intensify this winter despite the recent fighting tempo decreasing from autumn;

·       The Kremlin likely has not abandoned its maximalist objectives in Ukraine despite Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov’s first-time acknowledgment that Moscow’s current territorial objective is to fully seize four partially occupied Ukrainian oblasts;

·       German Chancellor Olaf Scholz stated that the risk of Russian nuclear escalation is low.

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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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