Ukrainian President Zelenskiy visits the front line near Sievierodonetsk

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KYIV, June 5 (Reuters) – Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskiy said on Sunday he had visited Lysychansk and Soledar, two towns very close to some of the most intense fighting between his country’s troops and Russian forces.

The besieged city of Lysychansk lies a few kilometers south of Sievierodonetsk, where one of the biggest land battles of the war is taking place and which Ukraine claims to regain control of. Read more

“I went with the head of (my) office in the east. We were in Lysychansk and Soledar,” Zelenskiy said in his nightly video address, adding that he would not give details of the visit. L1N2XS0IM

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In two separate videos released later, Zelenskiy, dressed in his trademark khaki t-shirt, is shown speaking to troops in confined bunker-like structures, presenting some with awards and addressing others. .

“What you all deserve is victory – that’s the most important thing. But not at any cost,” Zelenskiy said in one of the videos.

Reuters was unable to immediately confirm whether the videos were recorded in Lysychansk and Soledar.

The trips that were publicly revealed on Sunday were rare outings by Zelenskiy outside the capital Kyiv since the start of the Russian invasion on February 24 and may be the closest to the frontline yet. Read more

Lysychansk and Sievierodonetsk are in Luhansk region and Soledar is in Donetsk region. The two regions make up the wider Donbass region, Ukraine’s industrial heartland, which Russia says has a mission to “liberate”.

Ukraine says it is fighting for its survival even against an imperial Russian-style land grab. Observers say achieving the targets in the east is necessary for Russian President Vladimir Putin to claim success in the military operation.

ZAPORIZHZHIA

Earlier on Sunday, Zelenskiy said he visited frontline troops in the southeastern region of Zaporizhzhia, whose governor says 60% of the area is under Russian occupation.

“I want to thank you for your great work, for your service, for protecting us all, our state,” the statement said, quoting Zelenskiy, adding that he had observed a minute’s silence for the fallen troops.

Zelenskiy’s office later said the president also visited a medical facility in the region and spoke with people forced from their homes, including from Mariupol, which is now in Russian hands after been under siege for weeks.

He promised to act to ensure that all displaced people would be properly relocated.

“We’re really going to help you solve this problem,” the president’s office quoted him as saying.

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Written by Conor Humphries, Ron Popeski and Lidia Kelly; Editing by Jane Merriman, Tomasz Janowski and Diane Craft

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