Zelenskiy visits troops near frontline city of Bakhmut

Ukraine's President Volodymyr Zelenskiy poses for a picture with Ukrainian service members at a position near a frontline, amid Russia's attack on Ukraine, in Donetsk region, Ukraine March 22, 2023. Ukrainian Presidential Press Service/Handout via REUTERS

KYIV (Reuters) - President Volodymyr Zelenskiy visited Ukrainian troops on Wednesday near the frontline city of Bakhmut, and handed out medals to soldiers he said were heroically defending their country's sovereignty.

Ukrainian forces have held out for about eight months in Bakhmut, despite taking heavy casualties in one of the bloodiest battles since Russia's full-scale invasion 13 months ago.

Video footage posted on social media showed Zelenskiy, dressed in a dark sweatshirt and military khaki trousers, handing out awards to exhausted-looking soldiers in combat gear in what appeared to be a large warehouse.

"I am honoured to be here today to give awards to our heroes. To shake hands and thank them for protecting the sovereignty of our country," Zelenskiy wrote on the Telegram messaging app under the video footage.

"Your fate is so difficult, yet so historic. To defend our land and to return everything to Ukraine for our children," he said. "I bow low before all the heroes, your close comrades you have lost in the east, and in general throughout this war."

Zelenskiy has portrayed "Fortress Bakhmut" as a symbol of defiance which is bleeding the Russian military dry.

Reminiscent of World War One, the battle for Bakhmut has been fought from trenches with relentless artillery and rocket strikes across a heavily mined battlefield described as a "meat grinder" by commanders on both sides.

Zelenskiy has visited frontline troops several times during the war. Wednesday's visit followed days after Russian President Vladimir Putin went to the city of Mariupol -- his first to any Russian-occupied part of Ukraine's industrial Donbas region since the war began and the closest he has been to front lines.

A separate video on Wednesday showed Zelenskiy visiting wounded soldiers undergoing treatment. He shook the wounded soldiers' hands, thanked them for their service and presented some of them with medals.

(Reporting by Max Hunder, Editing by Timothy Heritage)

Subscribe now to our Premium Plan for an ad-free and unlimited reading experience!

Next In World

Saudi Special Economic Zones attract 12.6-bln-USD investment
UNICEF says menstrual knowledge key to attaining gender equality in Kenya
EU's Borrell: Russia won't enter negotiations while trying to win war
Consumer confidence in Finland declined in May
Five killed in jailbreak attempt in northern Ethiopia
Rwanda waives COVID-19 test requirement for tourists exploring national parks
African youth call for food systems overhaul to realize sustainability agenda
Israel, Morocco ink deals to strengthen transportation cooperation
Mozambique's national airline plans more routes to revitalize company
Kenya's central bank retains benchmark rate at 9.5 pct amid falling inflation

Others Also Read