Speed Reads

Not Putin

Ukraine's Zelensky visits front line outside Sievierodonetsk as Ukraine claims another Russian general

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky visited frontline troops and Ukrainian civilians in eastern and southern Ukraine on Sunday, including in areas under heavy Russian attack. In Zaporizhzhia, a city in the southeast, Zelensky met mayors of some occupied towns and "Mariupol residents who managed to leave the city alive and with children," he said Sunday night. In the Donbas region, Zelensky visited the city of Lysychansk in Luhansk oblast and the town of Soledar in Donetsk oblast.

Lysychansk is the western twin city to Sievierodonetsk, the focus of Russia's invading army and Ukraine's last stronghold in Luhansk. Soledar, just west of Lysychansk, has also been under heavy Russian attack. "I am proud of everyone I met, shook hands with, communicated with and supported. Something was brought for the military, but I will not detail it," Zelensky said in his nightly address. "And I brought something from them — to you. It is important: confidence and strength."

Zelensky's "willingness to take personal risk to visit soldiers in the field, and get his own sense of how military operations are unfolding," is important and serves several purposes, from allowing him to "get a feel for the morale and capability of his military in the field" to demonstrating he "remains comfortable in placing his life in the hands of his military," says war analyst Mick Ryan, a retired Australian general. 

It also differentiates Zelensky from Russian President Vladimir Putin, Ryan adds. "I am pretty sure that Putin will not be accepting invitations to visit the poorly fed and led — but well armed — Russian troops in Ukraine at any point in the near future."

And Russia continues to take heavy losses, including yet another general, Maj. Gen. Roman Kutuzov, reportedly killed Sunday near Mykolaivka in Luhansk, outside Popasna, U.S. think tank the Institute for the Study of War reports, citing Russian Telegram channels. 

"Even as Russian forces continue to pour equipment and troops into the Sievierodonetsk-Lysychansk area, Ukrainian forces have conducted a successful counterattack in Sievierodonetsk in the last 48 hours and pushed Russian troops back to the eastern outskirts of the city and out of southern settlements," at least temporarilyISW adds in its nightly assessment. "The ability of Ukrainian forces to successfully counterattack in Sievierodonetsk, the Kremlin's current priority area of operations, further indicates the declining combat power of Russian forces in Ukraine."