Ukraine’s President, Zelensky, storms Kharkiv, boosts troops’ morale

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Ukraine’s President Volodymyr Zelensky has visited troops in the Kharkiv region, on the country’s battered eastern front line.

It was his first official trip outside the Kyiv region since the Russian invasion began on 24 February.

He was pictured in a bullet-proof vest surveying ruins in Kharkiv city.

Mr Zelensky told soldiers, “I want to thank each of you for your service.” Later, he sacked the local security chief for “not defending” the city.

Russia has resumed shelling Kharkiv – Ukraine’s second-largest city – in recent days after a fortnight of comparative quiet.

The city – Ukraine’s second-largest – faced intense bombardment in the war’s first months, with images showing tower blocks flattened to rubble.

Russian troops were gradually pushed back from its surrounding towns during April and May, prompting some who had fled Kharkiv to return, and the metro to reopen for the first time since the invasion.

But the city remains within range of Russian artillery. Several loud explosions were heard in the city after Mr Zelensky’s visit.

President Zelensky’s office posted a video on Telegram with the caption: “2,229 buildings have been destroyed in Kharkiv and the region. We will restore, rebuild and bring back life. In Kharkiv and all other towns and villages where evil came.”