Ukraine’s Zelenskyy visits frontline as Putin concedes situation ‘extremely difficult’ in annexed regions
Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy traveled to one of the most dangerous battlefronts in the war against Russia Tuesday when visiting with his troops on the front lines in Bakhmut.
The small city in eastern Donetsk and its surrounding area has come to look like a scene out of World War II, as men fill muddy and freezing trenches that wind through destroyed landscapes, while the remnants of pummeled apartment blocks and scorched buildings show the effects of months of shelling in Bakhmut.
Western defense officials have said the battle for Bakhmut, while important for Ukraine in ousting Russian troops, has become largely symbolic for Moscow, which stands to gain little if it is able to take the devastated city.
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Fox News confirmed that Zelenskyy visited advanced positions and awarded soldiers in the area with medals and “valuable gifts” before departing Bakhmut.
Zelenskyy’s visit comes as Russian President Vladimir Putin for the first time conceded Tuesday that his 10-month-long war has not gone to plan and said the situation remains “extremely difficult.”
“The situation in the Donetsk and Luhansk People’s Republics, in the Kherson and Zaporizhzhia regions is extremely difficult,” Putin said according to a Reuters translation in reference to the four regions he annexed earlier this year.
Ukraine and its international allies rejected the annexation as illegitimate, and Putin’s forces have been unable to gain traction in the regions despite claiming them as Russian territory.
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Moscow has seen significant loses in Kherson, Zaporizhzhia and Donetsk since its annexation claims in September.
Russia has increased its aerial campaigns to focus on striking civilian targets and Ukraine’s energy infrastructure as its troops falter on the front lines.
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Zelenskyy has renewed calls for help from international partners to close the skies over Ukraine and stop Russia’s constant bombardment with drone and missile strikes.
Putin on Tuesday also reportedly ordered his intelligence agency, the Federal Security Services, to increase surveillance on its borders and at home over the “emergence of new threats” and concerns of internal rebellion over his costly war in Ukraine.
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