Volodymyr Zelensky recorded a video message for members of the Ukrainian Armed Forces stationed in the northeast of the country after visiting front-line positions in the region.
The short clip was posted on social media by the President’s team with the aim of raising morale among Ukrainian soldiers who have been facing furious Russian assaults.
President Zelensky stressed in the address that Kharkiv must hold on “given the constant Russian terror against Kharkiv, against the region, and the occupier’s attempts to intensify the assaults on our positions”.
Bordering Russia, the region of Kharkiv has seen intense fighting since the early days of the invasion with Russian troops at one point surrounding the regional capital.
The Russian army was eventually pushed back away from the city and a Ukrainian counter-offensive later pushed the invaders to the borders of the region with separatist-held Luhansk.
In his speech President Zelensky said: “Today I am in Kharkiv region. Kupyansk and Lyman directions, then the city of Kharkiv. Our warriors, combat brigades, commanders.
“Together with the team, we paid a visit to the 103rd separate territorial defense brigade, the 68th separate jaeger brigade named after Oleksa Dovbush, the 25th separate airborne brigade ‘Sicheslav’, and the 15th mobile border guard detachment ‘Steel Border’. Today I had the opportunity to talk to servicemen from other brigades as well.
“As always, we talked to the battalion commanders. Specific needs of the units. Weapons and supplies, as well as manning the brigades.
“There are things that need to be done, in particular, to ensure that our brigades have greater motivation and combat capabilities.”
He added: “I also had the honor to award the warriors who distinguished themselves – soldiers, sergeants, and officers. Different units, different combat paths, but equally strong Ukrainians! I am proud of all of them!
“It was a great pleasure to award our combat medics.
“Thank you all for protecting Ukraine, for confidence in Ukraine! Thank you for your chevrons and coins – I will keep them.”
It comes as Russia suffered another blow as Armenia voted to join the International Criminal Court.
The former Soviet Republic in the South Caucasus has historically been seen as following the Kremlin line but shifting alliances following Putin’s invasion of Ukraine appears to have pushed Yerevan towards the West.
Armenia’s decision to join the International Criminal Court means the arrest warrant for Putin will be active in the country meaning the Russian leader would be liable for arrest should he enter Armenian territory.
Russia has been blamed by the Armenian Government for failing to stop Azerbaijan’s recent invasion and seizure of the ethnic Armenian enclave of Nagorno-Karabakh.
Russian peacekeepers had been stationed in the region following a short war over the territory back in 2020.
The developments come amid a wider trend for countries in Central Asia and the Caucasus to be rethinking alliances with Russia.