Putin Visits Russian-Controlled Ukraine to Discuss War With Senior General

Putin Visits Russian-Controlled Ukraine to Discuss War With Senior General
Russian President Vladimir Putin visits the national guard headquarters in the Luhansk Region, Russian-controlled Ukraine, in this still image taken from handout video released on April 18, 2023. (Kremlin.ru/Handout via Reuters)

MOSCOW—President Vladimir Putin has visited military headquarters in Russian-controlled Ukraine, the Kremlin said, where he discussed the war with a general from Russia’s airborne troops who has reportedly taken up a powerful new role in the invasion.

Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, launched on Feb. 24, 2022, has triggered the deadliest European conflict since World War II.

Moscow claims to have annexed four Ukrainian regions but its forces are locked in a grinding artillery battle in the eastern Donbas with heavy losses on both sides, while they have been forced to pull back in southern Kherson, which Putin visited.

Dressed in a heavy blue jacket, Putin, 70, was shown on Russian state television descending from a military helicopter in Russian-held Ukraine and greeting senior military commanders.

It was not stated when the visit took place.

The Kremlin said Putin attended a military command meeting in Kherson region. He heard reports from commanders of the airborne forces and the “Dnieper” army group and other senior officers on the situation in Kherson and Zaporizhzhia regions, both of which Moscow has proclaimed part of Russia.

Icons For Easter

Russian troops retreated from the city of Kherson last November and have been reinforcing their positions on the opposite bank of the Dnipro river in anticipation of a Ukrainian counteroffensive.

“It is important for me to hear your opinion on how the situation is developing, to listen to you, to exchange information,” Putin told the commanders.

Colonel-General Mikhail Teplinsky, commander of Russia’s airborne troops, sat to Putin’s right while Colonel-General Oleg Makarevich sat to Putin’s left.

British military intelligence said on Sunday that Teplinsky had been given a major role in the war.

“Teplinsky, commander of Russia’s corps of airborne troops, the VDV, has highly likely returned to a major role in Ukraine,” British military intelligence said. “Teplinsky is likely one of the few senior Russian generals widely respected by the rank-and-file.”

Putin also visited national guard headquarters in Ukraine’s Luhansk region in the eastern Donbas, which Moscow has also claimed to have annexed along with adjacent Donetsk region.

Putin was shown presenting servicemen with a copy of an icon.

“The head of state also congratulated the servicemen on the Easter holiday and gave them copies of icons as a gift,” the Kremlin said.

Russia’s Orthodox Church celebrated Easter on April 16.

By Guy Faulconbridge

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