Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky Visits Kharkiv for the First Time Since Russian Invasion

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky visited the frontlines of the war against Russia in the eastern Kharkiv region on May 29, making it his first trip outside of the Kyiv region since the invasion began.

Zelensky’s office said in a statement that the president met with troops and presented them with awards and gifts.

“I want to thank each of you for your service. You risk your life for all of us and our state. Thank you for defending Ukraine’s independence. Take care of yourselves!” Zelensky said.

Meanwhile, Zelensky fired Roman Dudin, the chief of the Security Service of Ukraine for the Kharkiv region, for “not defending” the city.

“He did not work on the defense of the city from the first days of the full-scale war, but thought only about himself,” Zelensky said, according to BBC News.

In another statement, Zelensky held a working meeting with Kharkiv officials and inspected the ruins of the second largest city in Ukraine.

Zelensky was pictured in a bulletproof vest as he surveyed the ruins.

Oleg Synegubov, the head of the Kharkiv Regional Military Administration, told Zelensky that Russia has temporarily occupied 31% of the regional territory while 5% has been liberated.

According to Synegubov, Russian attacks have destroyed 2,229 high-rise buildings in the city, with the northern and eastern districts suffering the most damage.

“We are not yet able to fully inspect some of the liberated settlements, conduct full-fledged demining and begin rebuilding critical infrastructure, as shelling continues. Where we can do it remotely — we do it,” Synegubov said.

Zelensky proposed reconstruction plans, particularly a housing modernization program.

Zelensky noted that new houses should be built with bomb shelters.

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