‘We do not stop working for victory’: Zelensky visits battered south Ukraine front

KYIV, Ukraine — Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky visited the war-damaged southern city of Mykolaiv on Saturday for the first time since the Russian invasion in a rare trip outside Kyiv.

He also visited troops on the southern frontline of the war with Russia.

Zelensky’s office published a video of him looking at the destroyed building of the regional administration, where 37 people were killed in a Russian strike in March.

The tall building had a huge hole through its center.

His visit came a day after a Russian strike killed two people and injured 20 in the city.

Mykolaiv has been targeted by Russian forces since the start of their invasion on February 24.

In the video, Zelensky was shown the city’s damage by local governor Vitaliy Kim.

Remnants of offices were seen inside the administration building.

A blue and yellow Ukrainian trident was seen in one of the shattered windows.

He later also visited troops in both the Mykolaiv and the neighboring Odesa region, his office said.

Workers clean the area outside the regional government headquarters of Mykolaiv, which was heavily damaged in a Russian attack, in Mykolaiv, Ukraine, May 14, 2022. (AP Photo/Francisco Seco)

“It is important that you are alive. As long as you live there is a strong Ukrainian wall that protects our country,” Zelensky told soldiers in the Odesa region. “I want to thank you from the people of Ukraine, from our state for the great work you are doing, for your impeccable service.”

Earlier in Mykolaiv, Zelensky also took part in a meeting with local officials in what looked like an underground basement, giving out awards for bravery.

His office said they “discussed the state of the economy, the restoration of water supplies and the situation in agriculture.”

“Special attention was paid to threats from land and sea. We do not stop working for victory,” the statement read.

Mykolaiv has been holding the defense of southern Ukraine, as it lies on the way to the key strategic Black Sea port of Odesa.

The city is around 100 kilometers (62 miles) northwest of Kherson, which fell to Russian forces in the first weeks of the war.

Zelensky has been based in Kyiv since Moscow invaded, making his first trip outside the capital to the eastern city of Kharkiv in late May.

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