Zelensky visits southern Ukraine front in a rare trip outside Kyiv

AFP , Saturday 18 Jun 2022

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky visited the war-damaged southern city of Mykolaiv on Saturday for the first time since the Russian invasion in a rare trip outside Kyiv.

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky (3rdR) awarding a servicewoman during his visit to the position of Ukrainian troops in Mykolaiv region. AFP


He also visited troops on the southern frontline of the war with Russia.

Zelensky's office published a video of him looking at a badly damaged high-rise residential building in the city and holding a meeting with local officials.

His visit comes a day after a Russian strike killed two people and injured 20 in the city.

Mykolaiv has been targeted by Russian forces since the start of their invasion on February 24.

In the video Zelensky was shown damage to a residential building by local governor Vitaliy Kim.

The tall building had a gaping hole, with the inside of apartments visible.

A blue and yellow Ukrainian trident was seen in one of the shattered windows.

He later also visited troops on the southern frontline in both the Mykolaiv and the neighbouring Odessa region, his office said.

"It is important that you are alive. As long as you live there is a strong Ukrainian wall that protects our country," Zelensky told soldiers in the Odessa region.

"I want to thank you from the people of Ukraine, from our state for the great work you are doing, for your impeccable service."

Earlier in Mykolaiv, Zelensky also took part in a meeting with local officials in what looked like an underground basement, giving out awards for bravery.

His office said they "discussed the state of the economy, the restoration of water supplies and the situation in agriculture".

"Special attention was paid to threats from land and sea. We do not stop working for victory," the statement read.

Mykolaiv has been holding the defence of southern Ukraine, as it lies on the way to the key strategic Black Sea port of Odessa.

The city is around 100 kilometres (62 miles) northwest of Kherson, which fell to Russian forces in the first weeks of the war.

The regional administrative building was hit by a Russian strike in March, tearing a hole through the centre of the complex and killing more than a dozen people.

Zelensky has been based in Kyiv since Moscow invaded, making his first trip outside the capital to the eastern city of Kharkiv in late May.

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