Zelenskyy Visits Frontline Troops Amid Intense Russian Offensive

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy and his Commander in Chief Oleksandr Syrskyi visited troops in the eastern Donetsk region on Wednesday. These troops have endured intense Russian ground and air assaults in recent months.

The Kremlin’s army has intensified its efforts to dislodge Ukrainian forces in eastern and northeastern areas. Russia aims to seize more territory during the spring and summer months, taking advantage of drier conditions that allow heavy military equipment to move more easily.

Russia illegally annexed parts of Donetsk and three other regions in 2022 after invading Ukraine. The Kremlin considers taking control of the entire Donetsk region a priority. Moscow seeks to capitalize on its advantages in troops and weaponry before Ukraine receives promised additional Western supplies.

Civilians have also been affected by Russia’s attacks. Before Zelenskyy’s visit, Russia dropped a powerful glide bomb on the Donetsk city of Selydove, causing significant damage to 37 homes, six multi-story buildings, and administrative infrastructure. Local authorities reported no injuries.

Over the past 24 hours, the Russian military shelled 20 Donetsk region settlements, killing one person and injuring at least nine, according to regional head Vadym Filashkin.

Approximately 250 people have been evacuated from their homes in the Donetsk region since Tuesday, officials said.

Zelenskyy also discussed public drinking water supply, social issues, evacuation plans, and rebuilding efforts with local officials.

Zelenskyy indicated he wants a stronger response from Kyiv officials overseeing these matters. He didn’t specify the perceived problems or which officials he would address.

Zelenskyy has frequently visited front-line areas during the war.

He stated that his trip to the Donetsk region was to introduce the new commander of the Joint Forces Command, Andrii Hnatov.

Hnatov replaced Yurii Sodol, who had held the position since February 2023.

Zelenskyy did not provide a reason for the change, but it came after the widely respected chief of staff of the Azov brigade, Bohdan Krotevych, publicly criticized an unnamed general for “killing more Ukrainian soldiers than any Russian general.” This was seen as a reference to incompetent troop management.

Several Ukrainian media outlets, citing unidentified sources in the armed forces, reported that Krotevych was referring to Sodol.