May 28, 2023

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Zelensky visits border guards near Russia and vows victory

The Ukrainian president visited Sumy, the sixth stop of his regional tour, during which he will visit areas near the front lines.

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Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky visited two northern cities and border defense trenches near Russia on Tuesday, the latest stop on a regional tour that will take him closer to the front lines.

Video footage released by Zelensky’s office showed him visiting Sumy, the sixth region he visited in a week, as expectations of a Ukrainian counteroffensive grew.

Zelensky walked with border guard commanders through a deep trench into an uncharted wooded area in Sumy, while troops in combat uniform watched closely.

He also visited the towns of Okhtyrka and Trostyanets, where Russian forces that had controlled parts of the Sumy region for about a month at the start of the war in February last year were evacuated.

Some buildings in the two cities have been badly damaged in the fighting, and Ukrainian officials say the area near the border is still being bombarded by Russian artillery and airstrikes.

“These days and these weeks we are celebrating the anniversary of the liberation of our cities and communities in our northern regions,” Zelensky said before handing out medals to a small crowd of soldiers and civilians at the train station in Trostianets.

He later wrote in a telegram: “Our people proved that we will defeat this aggressor, with our morale, our Ukrainian character. Our people proved it, our soldiers proved it.”

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Fierce fighting has raged on the eastern front for months, with the commander of Ukraine’s ground forces saying last week that a Ukrainian counter-offensive could begin “very soon”.