President Volodymyr Zelensky visits frontline


Ukraine’s President Volodymyr Zelensky on Sunday visited the eastern region of the country for the first time since the start of Russia’s war on its neighbour.

Zelensky shared footage and photos from the frontline positions in the Kharkiv region as he said on Telegram that he is “endlessly proud of our defenders. Every day, risking their lives, they fight for Ukraine’s freedom.”

He thanked each and every one of Ukrainian defenders. “You risk your lives for us all and for our country,” he told the soldiers, according to the president’s office website.

Zelensky also handed out commendations and gifts during his visit to the region. His chief of staff, Andriy Yermak, posted on Telegram to say the president had also visited Ukraine’s second-largest city Kharkiv.

He added that 31% of the Kharkiv region was currently occupied by Russia, with a further 5% having been taken back by Ukraine. Several loud explosions were reportedly heard in the city after Mr Zelensky’s visit.

A large plume of dark smoke could also be seen rising northeast of the city centre. The city has faced renewed Russian shelling in recent days after several relatively quiet weeks.

At least 2,229 houses were destroyed in Kharkiv and its region, the Ukrainian president said, vowing to restore everything and “rebuild it, fill it with life.”

Meanwhile, the Ukrainian national news agency Ukrinform said Zelensky presented state awards and valuable gifts to Ukrainian defenders during his visit.

At least 4,031 civilians have been killed and 4,735 injured in Ukraine since Russia’s war on its neighbor started on Feb. 24, according to UN estimates. The true toll is believed to be much higher.

Over 6.7 million people have fled to other countries, while more than 7.7 million have been internally displaced, according to the UN refugee agency.

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