Russian President Vladimir Putin on Tuesday made his second visit to his troops in Ukraine in two months, arriving by helicopter under heavy security at a military command post in southern Kherson oblast.
The news was released via footage of his helicopter touching down, aired on Russian state television, and marks an apparent attempt to boost troop morale and demonstrate his ultimate authority over operations in the conflict at a moment overall advance is somewhat stalled.
"Dressed in a dark suit, Putin appeared to chair meetings with his military top brass during both stops. The locations of the military headquarters weren’t disclosed, making it impossible to assess how close they were to the front line," The Associated Press notes of the video. "Nor was it possible to independently verify the authenticity of the video footage."
The visit to the war zone is also a likely attempt to rally the troops as fighting still rages in the contested city of Bakhmut - the longest and deadliest battle of the war thus far, with the battle having continued for eight-and-a-half months.
"It is important for me to hear your opinion on how the situation is developing, to listen to you, to exchange information," Putin was quoted as telling commanders.
Russian officials have said at least 80% of the city in Donetsk is held by Russian forces, with Wagner Group taking the lead in much of the fighting.
Clips of the arrival in a Russian-occupied are of southern Ukraine on Tuesday:
Russia's RT describes of the visit details:
According to a statement, Putin traveled to the command center of the ‘Dnieper’ battlegroup located “in the Kherson area.” He received reports from the group’s commander, Colonel General Oleg Makarevich, and Colonel General Mikhail Teplinsky, the commander of Russia’s airborne troops.
The president also made a trip to the Lugansk People’s Republic, where he visited the ‘Vostok’ (East) command center of the National Guard. Putin discussed the situation in the area with top military officials, including Colonel General Aleksandr Lapin.
Meanwhile, Bakhmut is being widely viewed as a final showdown of sorts which could be tipping point giving the winning side the needed momentum in the broader war.
In the past month especially, Ukraine's leadership has sounded a pessimistic note, but has continued to pour in troops and resources into a fight that media headlines dubbed the "meatgrinder" given the high casualty rates on both sides.