For the first time since Russia’s war of aggression began, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy has visited the front line in southern Ukraine. An official video shows Zelenskyy inspecting a badly damaged regional administration building in Mykolaiv on Saturday.

Mykolaiv is an important military target for Russian troops. The capture of the city would open the way to Odessa, the main Ukrainian port city. Mykolayiv is also not far from the Cherson region, which is completely under the control of Russian troops.

According to the Presidential Office, Zelenskyi visited other Ukrainian positions in the region and in the neighboring Odessa region. “I want to thank you on behalf of the Ukrainian people, on behalf of our state, for your great work, for your heroic service,” he told soldiers.

He took part in a meeting on important issues in the region. “We discussed the state of the economy, the restoration of the water supply and the situation in agriculture. Particular attention was paid to threats from land and sea,” reads the video’s description.

Meanwhile, fighting in eastern Ukraine’s Donbass continued unabated. Pro-Russian separatists in Donetsk reported five civilians dead and 12 wounded by Ukrainian artillery fire. Donetsk is the capital of the self-proclaimed Donetsk Republic.

“Since the morning, massive enemy bombardments have been aimed at the capital of the People’s Republic,” the separatist military said. More than 200 artillery shells fell on Saturday. Russian news agencies reported that a cinema and a café in the city center were hit.

According to Ukrainian sources, the battle for the strategically important city of Sievjerodonetsk is now increasingly being fought in the surrounding villages. “Our defenders are fighting the Russians in all directions,” said Luhansk regional governor Serhiy Hajday.

According to him, the city of Sievjerodonetsk is still not under full Russian control. Meanwhile, for the people in neighboring Lyssychansk, the situation is becoming increasingly dangerous: since the Russian troops are unable to advance, “they simply bombard the city from the air,” Hajdaj explained.

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At the same time, Ukraine admitted that the Russian army had gained territory near the heavily contested administrative center of Sievjerodonetsk. “Due to the shelling and storm, the enemy achieved partial success in the village of Metyolkine and is trying to establish itself there,” the Ukrainian General Staff said in its situation report on Saturday evening. Metyolkine is located south-east of Sievjerodonetsk.

Chechen ruler Ramzan Kadyrov had previously stated that Russian forces had taken the town. Thousands of Chechens are fighting in the Russian armed forces in Ukraine.

According to Ukrainian sources, Russian troops are shelling the administrative center of the Luhansk region in eastern Ukraine with heavy artillery. However, an attempted storming of the Ukrainian positions in the city’s industrial area failed. Russian storming attempts were also unsuccessful in Syrotyne, a village west of Metjolkine.

Heavy weapons in particular were used in other sectors of the front, mostly without attempting a ground offensive. For example, the village of Berestove in the Bakhmut area west of Sieverodonetsk was hit by air raids. In the direction of Avdiivka, Novopavlivka and Zaporizhia, the Russians practiced constant artillery fire to prevent a regrouping of the Ukrainian forces.

Russian troops also used artillery against a number of towns in the Kharkiv region. In the direction of Sloviansk, the enemy is trying to create favorable conditions for an offensive by using heavy weapons, according to the situation report.