Vladimir Putin makes 2nd Ukraine visit in attempt to rally Russian troops – National

Russian President Vladimir Putin visited the command post of the Kremlin forces fighting in Ukraine, an official said on Tuesday.

A video released by the Kremlin and broadcast on Russian state television shows Putin arriving by helicopter at a Russian military command post in Kherson province in southern Ukraine and flying to the headquarters of the Russian National Guard in the eastern Luhansk region. It shows how it is.

Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov said the visit took place on Monday. Putin’s first visit to Russia-occupied Ukrainian territory in two months represents a clear attempt by the Russian leader to rally troops and demonstrate his authority.

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Putin, dressed in a dark suit, appeared to be chairing a meeting with the military’s top brass at both stops. It is impossible to assess how close it was. It was not possible to independently verify the authenticity of the video footage.

Russia’s war in Ukraine has largely stalled amid heavy fighting in the eastern part of the country, especially around the city of Bakhmut.

Kherson and Luhansk, along with Donetsk and Zaporizhia provinces, are four provinces illegally annexed by Russia in September following a local referendum that Ukraine and the West denounced as a hoax. Ukrainian presidential adviser Mikhail Podlyak has criticized Putin’s visit, accusing the Russian leader of “corruption” and of being the author of “mass murder” during the war.

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Both then and now, Donetsk, Kherson, most of Zaporizhia, and some areas of Luhansk Oblast were under Ukrainian control. In November, the Russian army ceded the territory of Kherson Oblast.

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In both places he visited, Putin congratulated military divisions on the Orthodox Easter Sunday, which was celebrated on Sunday, and presented them with icons. He handed them a copy of an Orthodox icon that he said belonged to a famous Russian general.

The senior officers present at the meeting mirrored who now supports Putin. The head of the Russian Airborne Forces, Colonel Mikhail Teplinsky, was one of the top generals at the Kherson base.

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Teplinski is a career officer who went from being a lieutenant to branch chief of the elite forces, and is known for being popular with his army. But last fall, he was temporarily relieved of the post amid a dispute with the military’s top officials.

He returned to work earlier this year, and attending a meeting with President Putin showed that he was backed up again.

Colonel Alexander Lapin, a senior officer who received Putin in the Luhansk region, also resigned from his post as commander of Russian forces in northeastern Ukraine after being accused of hastily withdrawing Russian troops from parts of the Kharkov region. Dismissed. In the face of the September Ukrainian counterattack.

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He was later named chief of staff of the ground forces, and Tuesday’s meeting with Putin showed that Lapin has earned the president’s trust.

Putin’s visit to military headquarters comes as Ukraine prepares for a new counteroffensive to reclaim occupied territories. Last month he visited Mariupol, a Russian-held port city on the Sea of ​​Azov. Mariupol was occupied by Russian forces in May 2022 after two months of heavy fighting.

Ukrainian officials said they were buying time by depleting Russian forces in eastern Ukraine while preparing a counterattack. Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky said that if Russia wins the Battle of Bakhmut, Putin could start building international support for a deal that would require Ukraine to make unacceptable compromises to end the war. claimed it could.

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Oleksiy Danilov, secretary of Ukraine’s National Security and Defense Council, said in an Associated Press interview in Kiev that Ukrainian allies have the technology the government needs to launch attacks, including heavy armored vehicles and ammunition. He said he was helping to achieve the target equipment.

He expressed confidence that Ukraine would regain all occupied territories.

“We will beat Russia,” he said. “You can definitely win if you have a strong willpower. And we always had that strong.

© 2023 The Canadian Press

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