Good morning from Kyiv.
Ukraine is yet again in mourning after it was revealed that one of the country’s most famous soldiers has been killed in a Russian attack near Bakhmut.
The death of officer Dmytro Kotsyubailo, popularly known as “Da Vinci” because of his desire to be an artist, was announced by President Zelensky on Tuesday evening.
“Since 2014, he has been defending our independence and the dignity of our people,” Zelensky said. “One of the youngest heroes of Ukraine. One of those whose personal history, character, and courage have forever become the history, character, and courage of Ukraine.”
Junior Lieuteunant Dmytro Kotsiubailo, call sign Da Vinci— Defense of Ukraine (@DefenceU) March 7, 2023
Hero of Ukraine.
The youngest battalion commander in the #UAarmy
Died in a battle for Ukraine's Freedom and Independence.
His death has hit Ukrainians hard, in a week in which the death of another soldier whose execution by Russian troops was captured on video had already shocked the nation.
Military charity founder, Dimko Zhluktenko, simply said: “RIP Da Vinci. You are a hero to all of us.”
What’s happening today?
EU defense ministers were preparing to meet Wednesday to discuss a plan to rush one billion euros of ammunition to Ukraine as pressure mounts on Kyiv’s allies to boost supplies to its war effort.
Ukraine’s critical shortage of ammunition will top the agenda at the meeting in Stockholm, where European leaders will try to replenish the thousands of 155-millimeter howitzer shells Kyiv’s forces are firing each day in its fight against a grinding Russian offensive.
UN chief Antonio Guterres is also in Kyiv today and will be meeting with Zelensky this morning “to discuss the continuation of the Black Sea Grain Initiative (grain export scheme) in all its aspects, as well as other pertinent issues.”
No further substantive information was provided about the visit, the third by Guterres after trips to Ukraine in April and August last year following Russia’s invasion on Feb. 24, 2022.
And elsewhere, the world is digesting a report in the New York Times about the mystery of who was responsible for sabotaging the Nord Stream gas pipelines last year.
The saga took another intriguing turn this week when it was reported that U.S. officials have seen new intelligence that indicates a “pro-Ukrainian group” was behind the audacious attack.
You can read more about that story here.
What was in President Zelensky’s latest message?
As well as paying tribute to Da Vinci, Zelensky also highlighted the long fight that has been fought by his peers, since long before the launch of Russia’s full-scale invasion last year.
“For more than nine years, Ukrainian heroes have been fighting for Ukraine’s future in fierce battles for the country,” he said.
“Peace and relative safety in the rear cities is their feat. Our confidence in Ukraine’s victory is their resilience and strength.
“Ukraine will always remember its heroes. Our memory of them will endure, and the enemy that came to Ukraine will perish.”
What’s the latest military situation?
The British Ministry of Defense (MoD) update on March 8 focuses on the “rare visit to Ukraine by Russian Defence Minister Sergei Shoigu” over the weekend, suggesting it was at least partly in response to the ongoing power struggle with the Wagner mercenary group.
It notes: “Wagner is in a high-profile dispute with the Russian Ministry of Defense and Shoigu is likely sensitive to being compared to [Wagner Chief Yevgeny] Prigozhin.
“The only deployed Russian field commander shown in the video was Colonel General Rustam Muradov. It is notable that Muradov is responsible for the Vuhledar sector of Donetsk Oblast, where several assaults have failed in the last three months.
“Until recently, the Russian command likely saw a breakthrough at Vuhledar as a key way to achieve an operationally significant breakthrough in Ukraine’s lines.
“Russian planners are likely facing the dilemma of attempting another Vuhledar assault or supporting intense fighting farther north near Bakhmut and Kreminna.”
The Institute for the Study of War’s March 7 daily assessment covers a multitude of topics, most notably:
· Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky stated on March 7 that the hypothetical Russian capture of Bakhmut would provide Russian forces an “open road” to Kramatorsk, Slovyansk, and other critical settlements in Donetsk Oblast.
· ISW continues to assess, however, that Russian forces lack the capability to exploit the tactical capture of Bakhmut to generate operational effects, and will likely rapidly culminate following the capture of Bakhmut.
· Russian forces additionally likely lack the mechanized forces necessary to advance beyond Bakhmut, and the tactical “assault detachments” used in assaults against Bakhmut are likely unable to conduct maneuver warfare.
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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