Russian President, Vladimir Putin, has visited Moscow-controlled parts of Ukraine’s southern Kherson region, the Kremlin says.
It says he attended a meeting to hear reports from military commanders.
Mr Putin also reportedly visited Ukraine’s Luhansk region. Russia claims to have annexed both regions, but does not fully control either.
The BBC has verified that Mr Putin visited Kherson’s coastal Henichensk area – but it is still unclear when.
Mr Putin’s spokesman, Dmitry Peskov, said the visit took place on April17. However, footage initially posted on the Kremlin’s website contradicts this statement.
In the clip released by Mr Putin’s press office, the Russian president can be clearly heard saying that the Easter holiday is “coming up”.Orthodox Easter was celebrated in Russia on April16, the day before the date claimed by Mr Peskov.
The video on the Kremlin website has since been edited, with Mr Putin’s words “coming up” removed. Such trips by the Russian leader are rare
Mr Putin told the military meeting in Kherson that, while he did not want to distract them from their duties, “it is important for me to hear your opinion on how the situation is developing, to listen to you, to exchange information”.
Russian troops retreated from the city of Kherson late last year, losing the only regional capital it had managed to capture since Moscow invaded Ukraine in February 2022. However, some of the region remains under Russian control.
In a separate development, Ukrainian President, Volodymyr Zelensky, on Tuesday, visited the frontline town of Avdiivka in the Donetsk region. His office published a video where Mr Zelensky is seen handing awards to soldiers, who have for months been defending the town from Russian attacks.
Responding to reports of Mr Putin’s visits, Mykhailo Podolyak, an adviser to Mr Zelensky’s office, tweeted that the Russian leader was touring “the occupied and ruined territories” of Ukraine “to enjoy the crimes of his minions for the last time”.
“Putin’s degradation is impressive,” he said. —BBC