Zelensky visits Ukraine's east for first time since invasion

May 29, 2022

Zelensky's office posted a video on Telegram of him wearing a bulletproof vest and being shown heavily destroyed buildings in Kharkiv and its surroundings.

Zelensky Visits Kharkiv

Ukraine's President Volodymyr Zelensky visited the country's war-ridden east for the first time since the Russian invasion, on a trip to Kharkiv region, from where Moscow has retreated in recent weeks.

Zelensky's office posted a video on Telegram of him wearing a bulletproof vest and being shown heavily destroyed buildings in Kharkiv and its surroundings.


The Ukrainian leader later said he had fired the local head of the SBU security service on the trip for not working to "defend" the city. "I came, figured out and fired the head of the Security Service of Ukraine of the (Kharkiv) region for the fact that he did not work on the defence of the city from the first days of the full-scale war, but thought only about himself," Zelensky said in his daily national address. "On which motives? The law enforcement officers will figure it out," he added.

His office said 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," it said on his Telegram account.


The Ukrainian leader has been based in Kyiv since Russian President Vladimir Putin launched his full-scale attack on February 24. In the video, Ukrainian soldiers showed Zelensky destroyed trucks on the side of a road going through a field. "In this war, the occupiers are trying to squeeze out at least some result," Zelensky said in a later post. "But they should have understood long ago that we will defend our land to the last man. They have no chance. We will fight and we will definitely win."

He also met local officials -- the governor of Kharkiv region and the mayor of the city -- to discuss reconstruction programmes for the region.

He called on them to "find cool projects" to rebuild destroyed areas.


"This is a chance for such districts to have a new face," Zelensky said.


-oc/raz


© Agence France-Presse