Zelenskiy visits troops in the northeast, holds security meetings

Zelenskiy visits troops in the northeast, holds security meetings

KYIV (Reuters) - President Volodymyr Zelenskiy on Tuesday discussed the battlefield situation with commanders in Ukraine's northeast, where he visited troops on one of the hottest fronts of the war with Russia.

In his nightly video address, Zelenskiy said he had been near Kharkiv, Ukraine's second-largest city, and heard from the commander of Ukraine's ground forces, Oleksandr Syrskyi, on defence in the area and on offensive actions further south, near Bakhmut.

"It is extremely important that Kharkiv, despite everything, not only holds on, but helps to keep our entire east strong," Zelenskiy said.

In a post on X, formerly known as Twitter, the president also said he met brigades fighting near the northeastern towns of Kupiansk and Lyman, recaptured by Ukrainian forces late last year. The area has been subject to Russian attacks in recent months.

"We met with brigade and battalion commanders to discuss the battlefield situation, pressing issues, and needs," he said. Photos showed him meeting soldiers in a poorly lighted room.

The president discussed preparation for winter in Kharkiv as Ukraine expects an escalation of Russia's strikes on energy infrastructure. Kharkiv, a major industrial centre, has not fallen into Russian hands since the Kremlin invasion in February 2022.

Zelenskiy, who has regularly visited troops, also handed out awards and urged troops to keep their motivation high.

The president's office also posted video footage showing Zelenskiy shaking hands with troops, inspecting equipment supplied by Western countries, sitting at a long table with commanders and being briefed by an officer standing in front of a map.

Since Kyiv began a counteroffensive in the east and south four months ago, Ukrainian troops have made only gradual gains, but Zelenskiy has rejected foreign criticism that the advance has been marred by poor military strategy.

(Reporting by Yuliia Dysa, Editing by Timothy Heritage, Ron Popeski and Cynthia Osterman)