Putin makes surprise visit near military front line
President Vladimir Putin has made an unannounced visit to two command posts in Russia’s newly incorporated territories, where he reviewed the progress of the military operation against Ukrainian forces, the Kremlin said on Tuesday.
According to a statement, Putin traveled to the command center of the ‘Dnieper’ battlegroup located “in the Kherson area.” He received reports from the group’s commander, Colonel General Oleg Makarevich, and Colonel General Mikhail Teplinsky, the commander of Russia’s airborne troops.
The president also made a trip to the Lugansk People’s Republic, where he visited the ‘Vostok’ (East) command center of the National Guard. Putin discussed the situation in the area with top military officials, including Colonel General Aleksandr Lapin.
Putin’s surprise visit comes as Kiev prepares to launch a counteroffensive in which Western-supplied heavy tanks and new armored vehicles are expected to be involved. Ukrainian Prime Minister Denis Shmigal said on Monday that Kiev will start the operation “in the nearest future.”
The recent months of the Ukraine conflict have been marked by fierce fighting for the Donbass mining city of Artyomovsk, known to Ukrainians as Bakhmut.
Evgeny Prigozhin, the head of the Russian private military company Wagner Group, claimed last week that his forces controlled “more than 80%” of the city. The Russian Defense Ministry said that Wagner fighters, along with airborne troops, were working to push Ukrainian soldiers from the city center to its western suburbs.