Russian-Ukrainian crisis: President Zelensky on the front line as fighting rages – News

He visited command posts where Ukrainian troops were repelling Russian forces



AP file

By AFP

Published: Mon 6 Jun 2022, 06:46

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky met troops on the front lines in Donbass on Sunday as heavy fighting raged in the eastern industrial region that Moscow has focused its forces on capturing.

Zelensky visited command posts and frontline positions in Lysychansk, which is across the Siverskyi Donets River from Severodonetsk, where Ukrainian troops were repelling Russian forces that had appeared earlier about to take the strategic city.

He also traveled to Bakhmut, southwest of the Donetsk region in the Donbass, and spoke with soldiers, the presidency said.

“I want to thank you for your great work, for your service, for protecting all of us, our state. I am grateful to everyone,” he told them. “Take care of yourself!”

During his working visit, Zelensky “got acquainted with the operational situation on the defense front line,” the presidency said.

“I’m proud of everyone I’ve met, shaken hands with, communicated with, supported,” Zelensky said in his daily evening speech after his visit.

The president said he also traveled to Zaporizhzhia in the southeast to meet residents of Mariupol who had managed to leave the port city destroyed by months of Russian bombardment.

“Each family has its own story. Most were without men,” he said.

“Someone’s husband has gone to war, someone is in captivity, someone is unfortunately dead. A tragedy. No home, no loved one. But we have to live for the children. Real heroes – they are among us.

Zelensky’s trip to the battlefield gave him an important first-hand view of military operations and boosted the morale of his frontline troops, former Australian Army General Mick Ryan said.

It also demonstrated “that he has complete confidence in his army” and served to sharpen the contrast between his leadership style and that of his Russian opponent Vladimir Putin.

“An important characteristic demonstrated by Zelensky is his willingness to take personal risks to visit soldiers in the field and get his own feel for how military operations unfold,” Ryan tweeted on Monday.

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“It’s an important way for Zelensky to differentiate himself from his opponent.

“I’m pretty sure Putin won’t be accepting invitations to visit ill-fed and led – but well-armed – Russian troops in Ukraine at any time in the near future.”

Zelensky previously visited the front lines in late May, when there are no signs that Putin has been anywhere near the battlefield since he launched his invasion.

Christi C. Elwood