Good morning from Kyiv which is still abuzz from Joe Biden’s surprise visit yesterday. Aside from being an incredible show of support, it gave us the absolutely iconic visual spectacle of the U.S. and Ukrainian presidents walking through the capital as air raid sirens blasted out in the background.
And how did a U.S. president make it into a war zone without anyone knowing? Well, you can find out here?
What’s happening today?
Today is a day of two very different speeches, which will outline competing visions of Ukraine’s future as well as the events of the past year.
Speaking at Warsaw’s historic Royal Castle, President Joe Biden will “make it clear that the United States will continue to stand with Ukraine... for as long as it takes,” the day after he visited Kyiv to reaffirm the U.S.’s “unwavering support” for President Zelensky.
Only a few hours before Biden’s speech, Russian President Vladimir Putin will deliver a state-of-the-nation address in Moscow, which is expected to be largely devoted to the conflict.
According to the Washington-based Institute for the Study of War (ISW), we shouldn’t expect much more than the usual bluster and posturing, and Putin is “unlikely to announce measures for further escalation of the war in Ukraine, major new Russian mobilization initiatives, or any other significant policy” in the speech.
You can read more about what to expect here.
What was in President Zelensky’s latest message?
Unsurprisingly, Zelensky’s daily address on Monday evening centered on his VIP visitor that day.
“I am also thankful, on behalf of all Ukrainians, to all Americans,” he said. “Ordinary people and community leaders, members of Congress from both parties, and all members of President Biden's team for bringing our relationship between Ukraine and America to a historically most meaningful level. We can be called true allies, and our alliance with America truly strengthens the world.”
What’s the latest military situation?
The British Ministry of Defense (MoD) update on Feb. 21 focuses on the huge number of civilian casualties since the beginning of Russia’s full-scale invasion.
Quoting a report from the United Nations Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR), as of Feb. 13, 2023 it has recorded 18,955 civilian casualties.
The MoD notes: “This consisted of 7,199 killed and 11,756 injured. 697 of the civilian casualties occurred in January 2023.
“The OHCHR has stated it believes that the actual figures are considerably higher. Based on other, independent analysis, over 16,000 civilians have likely been killed.”
The report added that “continued civilian casualties are likely largely due to Russia’s lack of discrimination in the use of artillery and other area weapon systems.”
The Institute for the Study of War’s Feb. 20 daily assessment covers a multitude of topics, most notably:
· The Russian Ministry of Defense (MoD) confirmed the formal integration of the Donetsk and Luhansk People’s Republics’ (DNR/LNR) militias into the Russian Armed Forces on Feb. 19 in response to growing criticism about reported command changes within the proxy units.
· The restructuring of proxy militias also suggests that the Russian military command is trying to achieve all desired reforms while the Russian MoD has the favor of Russian President Vladimir Putin.
· The Russian military command has likely cut off Wagner Group financier Yevgeny Prigozhin’s independent access to artillery shells and heavy weaponry as part of the effort to professionalize Russian conventional forces.
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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