On Tuesday, the presidents of Ukraine and Russia presented medals: President Zelensky traveled to the besieged eastern city of Bachmut to salute Ukrainian soldiers as artillery roared in the distance, while President Vladimir V. Putin Pay tribute to figures and propaganda leaders in the Russian-occupied zone in the Kremlin’s secure, gilded halls.
The contrast captures the intricacies of a war that began 300 days ago with Zelensky flashing new contempt and Mr. Putin gave no signal to stop the attacks.
While Russian forces are digging up much of the 600-mile front after a string of battlefield losses, Moscow has ramped up its assault on Ukrainian infrastructure, with waves of missile and drone strikes aimed at plunging the country into darkness .
On the battlefield, Russia’s repeated attacks on Bakhmut, a city that once housed 70,000 people in the eastern Donbas region, were relentless and catastrophic, reminiscent of what was left after the deadliest fighting of World War I. wasteland.
gentlemen. Zelensky set off early in the morning for perhaps his most dangerous frontline trip since the fighting began in February, more than 440 miles from the capital. Wearing a plain army green jacket, he presented awards to the soldiers in combat uniforms, and took a group photo with the soldiers to pay tribute to their “superman” courage.
“The east is holding on because Bahmut is fighting,” he told troops, adding: “The freedom of all of us is being defended here, at the cost of many lives, amid fierce fighting.”
gentlemen. Zelensky continued to praise Ukraine’s defenders in his nightly speech, in which he noted he had left Donetsk.
gentlemen. Putin’s simultaneous award ceremony was more pompous and grand — and less risky. It arrived a few hours after Mr. Putin released a video message to employees of Russia’s security agencies in which he warned that the situation in Russian-controlled parts of Ukraine was “extremely difficult”.
It seems designed to signal to Ukraine and its Western allies, sir. Putin is determined to continue his fight, even as US officials say Russian casualties now exceed 100,000.
Those honored Tuesday at a televised event in the Kremlin included some of Russia’s most high-profile pro-war figures. There are leaders of four Ukrainian regions appointed by Russia, Mr. Putin illegally annexed the region in September, although much of it remains under Ukrainian control. There’s Semyon Pegov, a Russian war blogger wounded in Ukraine. And Margarita Simonyan, a hardline editor for the RT network, one of the Kremlin’s most important propaganda outlets.
“Thank you for taking our people from the bloody mouths of these cannibals, despite the pain and blood,” Simonian said at the ceremony, in an apparent reference to the Kremlin’s allegations that Ukraine has been targeting Russian-speaking people. False narrative of genocide. “We will help you fight these cannibals at your request.”
It’s a reminder of powerful Russian propaganda apparatus, like Mr Trump. Putin himself has increasingly acknowledged Russia’s struggles on the front lines, though he continues to conceal the extent of the troop losses. At the same time, it has portrayed the war as one of life and death—claiming that the real enemy is NATO, which seeks to destroy Russia—and trying to prepare the Russians for further sacrifices.
Tuesday, sir. Putin appears unwilling to cede the spotlight to Trump. Zelensky. Russian media published reports that the Russian leader on Friday inspected a “special military operations zone” – the Kremlin’s term for a war zone.
gentlemen. In a short speech at the end of the ceremony on Tuesday, Putin called these “difficult, unusual times” and praised Russian soldiers as “heroes.”
“When a country and even everyone is developing and moving forward, they will always overcome certain difficulties on this road,” Xi said. Putin said. “But today, it does come with special challenges.”