Kremlin responds to claim on Putin's visit to military HQ
The Kremlin has commented on a statement by Andrey Gurulev, a retired general and MP, who seemed to indicate, on Tuesday, that Russian President Vladimir Putin had visited the zone of Russia's "special military operation" in Ukraine.
Gurulev claimed that Putin “personally talked to each commander” engaged in the campaign while visiting the army joint headquarters. He appeared to believe that the site is located inside former Ukrainian territory.
“When it comes to the visit to the special military operation zone, it … was very important that [the president] did not just receive a report on the situation… but talked to every commander personally,” the retired general said, adding that “personal communication provides full understanding of what is happening now and what would happen in the future.”
“If he [Gurulev] means the headquarters, where he [Putin] was on Friday, then yes,” Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov told Rossiyskaya Gazeta newspaper on Tuesday.
Earlier, the Kremlin said in a statement that the president spent a day at the joint headquarters of the forces engaged in the Russian military campaign in Ukraine. Putin received a report on the situation on the frontlines, held a military council and met with commanders, the statement read. The Kremlin did not disclose at that time that the president had visited the operation zone.
According to the Russian TASS news agency, Defense Minister Sergey Shoigu and Chief of the General Staff Valery Gerasimov visited the headquarters together with the president. On Sunday, the Defense Ministry also said that Shoigu inspected the troops in Russia’s southern military district and in the special operation zone, including forces on the frontline.
Russia sent troops into Ukraine on February 24, citing Kiev’s failure to implement the Minsk agreements, designed to give the regions of Donetsk and Lugansk special status within the Ukrainian state. The protocols, brokered by Germany and France, were first signed in 2014. Former Ukrainian President Pyotr Poroshenko has since admitted that Kiev’s main goal was to use the ceasefire to buy time and “create powerful armed forces.”
In February 2022, the Kremlin recognized the Donbass republics as independent states and demanded that Ukraine officially declare itself a neutral country that would never join any Western military bloc. This fall, the Donetsk and Lugansk People’s Republics, along with Kherson and Zaporozhye Regions, formally joined Russia after voting overwhelmingly in favor of the move in referendums.