Saturday, April 22, 2023

Putin, Zelensky Make Rival Visits to Troops in Ukraine; Intense Battles Continue in Bakhmut,City is Holding Out – Commander of UKR's Ground Forces; Western Artillery a ‘game-changer’ on Ukraine’s Battlefield; UKR's Defense Minister Posts Video of French-Supplied "wheeled tanks", LIVE UPDATES and MORE

Kai Pfaffenbach/Reuters
WSJ: Putin, Zelensky Make Rival Visits to Troops in Ukraine:
Trips underscore high stakes in Kyiv’s looming offensive, and show different leadership styles
Russian President Vladimir Putin and his Ukrainian counterpart, Volodymyr Zelensky, both visited troops in Ukraine within a day of each other this week as the leaders try to shore up morale ahead of an expected offensive by Kyiv to wrest territory from Moscow’s grip.
Mr. Putin made a rare visit to his troops by traveling Monday to Ukraine’s Kherson and Luhansk regions, both of which are partly occupied by Russian forces, and was briefed by senior officers about the situation on the front line, the Kremlin said Tuesday.
Then on Tuesday, Mr. Zelensky visited troops in the eastern town of Avdiivka, which has been on the front line with Russian forces since an earlier phase of the conflict that began in 2014.
The visits underscore the high stakes ahead of an anticipated Ukrainian offensive that experts say may determine the outcome of the war now in its second year. The visits also showcased the two leaders’ contrasting images and styles of leadership.
Footage carried by Russian state news agencies showed Mr. Putin, dressed in suit and tie, emerging from a helicopter and traveling in a convoy of vehicles. It was Mr. Putin’s second known trip to territory seized since the start of Russia’s invasion last year. Last month, he visited the occupied Ukrainian port city of Mariupol, which Russia seized following a lengthy, violent siege.
“I don’t want to distract you from your direct duties related to command and control, so we are working here in a businesslike way, briefly, but concretely,” Mr. Putin said in one of his meetings, according to TASS state newswire. “It is important for me to hear your opinion on how the situation is developing, to listen to you, to exchange information.”
Mr. Zelensky, meanwhile, has made relatively frequent visits to front-line troops throughout the war, cultivating an image of an engaged wartime leader far closer to the troops on the ground. He turned up to Avdiivka wearing a sweatshirt and cargo pants while handing out awards to servicemen.
“Our army has already broken the enemy’s plans to break through the defenses and deepen (its incursion) in the east,” said Mr. Zelensky’s chief of staff, Andriy Yermak, who accompanied him there. “The next task is to reverse the situation and throw them out of Ukraine.” --->LOTS MORE ON THIS STORY HERE
Intense battles continue in Bakhmut, city is holding out – Commander of Ukraine's Ground Forces:
The Russians have not abandoned their intention to capture Bakhmut, but the defenders are holding back the Russian offensive. Intense battles continue in the city.
Source: Oleksandr Syrskyi, Commander of the Ground Forces of the Armed Forces of Ukraine, on Telegram
Quote from Syrskyi: "Russia is concentrating the largest number of its forces in Bakhmut and dreams of completely taking control of the city. However, the Defence Forces are holding back the Russian offensive in intense battles, inflicting significant losses on the enemy."
Details: Syrskyi added that the Bakhmut front remains the epicentre of the Russian offensive, but the fortress city itself is still holding out.
Syrskyi said that the defenders destroyed Russian manpower and equipment last night, as well as two of their UAVs: an Orlan and a ZALA.
On 18 April, border guards defending the city of Bakhmut noted that the Russian forces are now composed of fewer convicts and more professional soldiers. Fierce battles are ongoing in the city centre.
Follow links below to +++++relevant+++++ and related stories:

+++++Russia-Ukraine News LATEST UPDATES: (REUTERS) (AP) (NY POST) and (WSJ)+++++

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