Good morning from Kyiv where a light fluttering of snow has returned but – so far – the air raid sirens have not. Last night was the fourth quiet night in a row but with Ukrainian Christmas Day tomorrow, and Ukraine rejecting Russia’s “truce” yesterday evening, no one expects the calm to last very long.
What’s happening today?
Today’s big news is that there is a whole new array of western weapons heading this way, after the U.S., Germany and France all said they’d be sending long-awaited armored fighting vehicles to Ukraine.
France made their announcement first on Wednesday night, marking a new phase in western support for Ukraine and placing the others under a bit of pressure to follow suit.
Last night, Germany and the U.S. made a joint announcement, with U.S. President Joe Biden and German Chancellor Olaf Scholz reaffirming their “unwavering solidarity with Ukraine and the Ukrainian people in the face of Russia's aggression.”
You can read more about that story as well as a detailed description of what’s being sent here.
Elsewhere, Ukraine has rejected a Russian offer of a Christmas truce calling it "hypocrisy" and "propaganda". Biden has agreed, saying Putin's order for a two-day Orthodox Christmas ceasefire in Ukraine was simply an effort to find breathing room for his war effort.
"He was ready to bomb hospitals and nurseries and churches" on Dec. 25 and on New Year's Day, Biden said, adding: "I think he's trying to find some oxygen."
You can read more on that story here.
What was in President Zelensky’s latest message?
Zelensky was rather pleased with the announcements of new weapons systems for Ukraine, saying in his daily address on Thursday evening it marked a “a very important decision.”
“We will have another Patriot battery and powerful armored vehicles – this is truly a great victory for our country,” he added.
He also singled out some of those on the frontlines for praise. “Today, I would like to commend our fighters of the 54th separate mechanized brigade who have been successfully holding positions in the Bakhmut direction for many months.
“And also – the fighters of the 35th marine brigade for the gradual, step by step liberation of our territories in the Donetsk direction. Thank you, warriors!
What’s the latest military situation?
The British Ministry of Defense (MoD) update on Jan. 6 focuses on militias in the so-called Luhansk People’s Republic (LNR) and Donetsk People’s Republic (DNR) and their formal integration into the Russian armed forces.
“Russia claims the LNR and DNR are intrinsic parts of the Russian Federation following the fixed accession referendums of September 2022,” the MoD writes.
“The status and identities of the DNR and LNR likely remain divisive within the Russian system. Even before the Feb. 2022 invasion, these territories represented a significant drain on Russian finances.
“Now that the Kremlin has overtly committed to supporting them, they will likely constitute a large political, diplomatic and financial cost for Russia which will last well beyond the current phase of the conflict.”
The Institute for the Study of War’s Jan. 5 daily assessment covers a multitude of topics, most notably:
Putin’s announcement that Russian forces will conduct a 36-hour ceasefire in observance of Russian Orthodox Christmas is likely an information operation intended to damage Ukraine’s reputation;
· Wagner Financier Yevgeny Prigozhin claimed that prisoners who volunteered with the Wagner Group in Ukraine received pardons, likely in a bid to inflate his influence and political power, strengthen Wagner Group’s prisoner recruitment, and reassure Wagner Group criminals in uniform;
· Mobilized Russian servicemembers likely continue to represent an outsized portion of Russian military casualties in Ukraine.
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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