Good morning from Kyiv where another quiet night has given way to an unseasonably mild day – a decent result for the capital as things go currently.
What’s happening today?
The big story is still Ukraine’s devastating New Year strike in Makiivka.
Russian authorities have revised the death toll upwards, to 89, and have blamed the soldiers that were killed for own demise, saying the banned use of mobile phones enabled Ukraine to carry out the attack.
It’s too early to say for certain if this excuse will assuage the public anger which continues to mount in Russia, but the developing situation is fascinating to watch. You can read more about it here.
Elsewhere, talk of a new Russian attack from Belarus has been bubbling away for weeks now – Kyiv Post spoke to a soldier posted near the border to ask him if he thought this was possible.
What was President Zelensky’s latest message?
Zelensky highlighted a Russian strike on the city of Druzhkivka in Donetsk Region, in which one person died and an ice rink was destroyed.
"This ice arena - Altair - started working before the war, when Donbas had a normal life before Russia came," Zelensky said in his daily address on Tuesday evening.
"Children trained there. There was a children's sports school. Hockey competitions were held there. People played sports there, celebrated and just enjoyed life. Last year it was used to collect and distribute humanitarian aid.
"The Russian missile against Altair in Druzhkivka is another confession of the terrorist state. It is a confession of what it came to Donbas with and what we will definitely oust from there. Death will not prevail in Donbas, and we must do everything to throw out its tricolor from Donbas and other lands of Ukraine."
What’s the situation on the front lines?
The British Ministry of Defense (MoD) update on Jan. 4 also focuses on the New Year strike in Makiivka, noting that due to the extent of the damage caused, it’s highly likely that reports ammunition was being stored near personnel are true.
It adds: "The building was only 12.5km from the Avdiivka sector of front line, one of the most intensely contested areas of the conflict.
"The Russian military has a record of unsafe ammunition storage from well before the war, but this incident highlights how unprofessional practices contribute to Russia’s high casualty rate."
The Institute for the Study of War’s Jan. 3 daily assessment covers a multitude of topics, most notably:
Russian President Vladimir Putin confirmed that Russia is using a variety of social schemes to justify the transfer of Ukrainian children to Russia.
· Russian forces continued to carry out unsuccessful attempts to improve their tactical positions northwest of Svatove after reportedly conducting a tactical pause.
· The Kremlin is likely co-opting some Russian milbloggers who are willing to sell out in exchange for political prestige.
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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