UPDATE: Since publishing the memo, it's been announced that Zelensky is actually on his way to the UK today. You can read the full story here.
Good morning from Kyiv where President Zelensky may – or may not – be packing his bags in preparation for a visit to Brussels.
The potential trip to the heart of the EU is being kept under tight wraps due to security concerns but European Parliament sources have said they're ready to hold a special sitting for Zelensky to give a speech, before attending a long-planned summit of the 27 EU leaders across town.
Unfortunately, these same sources may have scuppered the entire thing as the leaking of the news ahead of the event throwing security arrangements into chaos.
What’s happening today?
That possible shambles aside, there’s mixed news elsewhere for Ukraine today.
President Joe Biden’s State of the Union speech last night promised U.S. support for Ukraine for as long as it takes to fight off the Russian invasion.
"We're going to stand with you, as long as it takes. Our nation is working for more freedom, more dignity, more peace – not just in Europe, but everywhere," Biden said, addressing Ukraine's ambassador to Washington, Oksana Markarova.
In less positive news, the Kremlin has claimed Moscow's forces were "progressing with success" near the eastern Ukrainian towns of Bakhmut and Vugledar. The two towns in the eastern region of Donetsk are the epicentre of hostilities and the scene of some of the heaviest fighting since Russia sent troops to Ukraine on February 24 last year.
The claims come ahead of an expected large offensive from Russia in the coming weeks with Kyiv appealing for the speedier delivery of much-needed weapons like heavy tanks.
Speaking of which, where are those tanks? You can find out here (LINK TO EXPLAINER).
What was in President Zelensky’s latest message?
During his daily address on Tuesday evening, President Zelensky highlighted a surprise visit to Kyiv by German Defense Minister Boris Pistorius, saying: “The topic of our conversation is obvious. We are doing everything for our skies to be clear, for our warriors to have powerful tanks and for our artillery not to be inferior to that of the occupier.
“I thank Germany and all partners for the respective support.”
Zelensky also stressed that everything was being done to monitor and prepare for Russia’s expected offensive, saying: “Today, as usual, I held several meetings with the military and a meeting with the head of intelligence. We are paying maximum attention to what the occupiers are preparing. And to what our warriors need to effectively resist – in all directions.
“The Donetsk region and the east, where the situation is the hottest – I mention them every day in such addresses.
“The south sounds less often, although the strategic meaning of these directions is no less significant. And we are strengthening the state along the entire perimeter.”
What’s the latest military situation?
The British Ministry of Defense (MoD) update on Feb. 8 focuses on the “complex network of islands and waterways which make up the Dnipro delta”.
The MoD notes: “Russian forces have almost certainly used small boats to try to main a presence on key islands; Ukraine has successfully deployed long-range artillery to neutralise Russian outposts a number of times.
“Both sides have likely also deployed small groups on the Kinburn Spit, which commands the Dnipro Gulf.
“Both sides are likely aiming to maintain a presence in these areas to control maritime access to the strategically important river and to provide warning of any attempt by their adversaries to launch a major assault across the river.
“It is highly unlikely that Russia will attempt an assault crossing of the Dnipro: it would likely be extremely complex and costly.”
The Institute for the Study of War’s Feb. 7 daily assessment covers a multitude of topics, most notably:
· Russian Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu held a press conference on the status of the war on February 7, likely in an attempt to posture the Russian Ministry of Defense (MoD) as an effective and involved leadership apparatus as the Russian military prepares for a renewed major offensive in Ukraine.
· Russian military command may be rushing to launch a large-scale offensive operation to conquer Donetsk Oblast in an unrealistic timeframe and likely without sufficient combat power.
· The Russian nationalist information space is continuing to express worry over Russia’s inability to sustain a rapid and multi-pronged decisive offensive operation on a deadline.
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.
You can also highlight the text and press Ctrl + Enter