Zelenskyy visits two Ukrainian towns recaptured from Russians

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Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy visited two northern towns on Tuesday to celebrate their recapture a year ago in battles which he said showed Ukraine would defeat its Russian invaders.

Video footage posted online by Zelenskyy’s office showed him visiting Okhtyrka and Trostyanets in Sumy, the sixth region he has visited in the past week - some of them near the front line - as expectations of a Ukrainian counter-offensive rise.

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“These days, these weeks, we are celebrating the anniversary of the liberation of our cities and communities in our northern regions,” Zelenskyy told a small crowd of soldiers and civilians at the railway station in Trostyanets before handing out medals.

Russian forces poured into the Sumy region, which borders Russia, at the start of the invasion in February 2022. They were driven out of the region after about a month of occupation that was met by fierce resistance.

The video footage posted online showed heavily damaged buildings in the towns Zelenskyy visited. Ukrainian officials say territories close to the border are still regularly bombarded by Russian artillery and air strikes.

“Our people proved that this occupier will be defeated by us, by our morale, by our Ukrainian character. Our people proved it, our warriors proved it,” Zelenskyy wrote on Telegram under the footage of his visit to Sumy.

The Russian invasion has been bogged down for months in fierce fighting along the eastern front, and Ukraine’s ground forces commander said last week that a Ukrainian counterattack could come “very soon.”

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