The president meets the military facing a Russian attack as Putin warns of difficulties in the partially occupied regions.
Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy made an unannounced visit to Bakhmut, a besieged city in the east of the country that has been under constant Russian attacks for several months.
Zelenskyy’s office said on Tuesday he met and spoke with servicemen during a visit to the front-line city and presented awards to Ukrainian servicemen.
Bakhmut remains in Ukrainian hands under Russia The attack lasted 300 daysthwarting Moscow’s goal of capturing the entire Donetsk and Donbas region, part of which has been controlled by Russian proxies since 2014.
But Zelenskyy speak Earlier this month, Russian efforts to conquer the city – whose prewar population of 70,000-80,000 has now dwindled to nearly 10,000 – turned it into ruins.
“The occupiers actually destroyed Bakhmut, another Donbas city that the Russian army turned into burned ruins,” he said last week.
The capture of Bakhmut would cut off Ukraine’s supply lines and open a path for Russian forces to advance towards Kramatorsk and Sloviansk, important Ukrainian strongholds in the region.
Mercenaries from the Wagner Corporation, a shady Russian military company, are believed to be leading the assault on the city.
Putin warns of ‘difficult situation’ in partially occupied regions
Zelenskyy’s visit comes as his Russian counterpart Vladimir Putin described the situation in Russian-controlled regions of Ukraine as “extremely difficult”.
Addressing Russia’s Federal Security Service (FSB), Putin told the agents that they needed to significantly improve their work in a speech. This was one of his clearest public admissions that the invasion he launched in late February would not have been planned.
“The situation in the People’s Republics of Donetsk and Luhansk, in the Kherson and Zaporizhia regions is extremely difficult,” Putin said, citing four partially occupied Ukrainian regions that Moscow had unilaterally annexed. September.
He also ordered the FSB to ensure the “safety” of those living there.
In October, Russian forces retreated in one of the areas – Kherson – and dug deep in others. They have failed to gain ground and earlier this month, Putin said the fight could be a “long process”.
His speech on Tuesday after a visit to close ally Belarus a day earlier had raised concerns, dismissed by the Kremlin, that the country could help Russia open a new aggression front against the Kremlin. Ukraine. The Russian military used Belarus as a launch pad for their initial attack.
On Tuesday, Russian news agencies reported that Minsk had reached an agreement with Moscow on debt restructuring and had agreed on a fixed price for Russian gas for three years.
Meanwhile, Ukraine said it was seeking more weapons from its Western allies after weeks of Russian attacks on energy facilities that knocked out electricity and water supplies amid freezing temperatures.
Russia’s war in Ukraine, the largest war in Europe since World War II, has killed tens of thousands of people, displaced millions from their homes and turned large swaths of the country into rubble. broken.