Russia’s top military official visited Ukraine on a fact-finding and oversight mission as Russian forces fail to make progress in the invasion, according to a senior U.S. defense official.
Chief of Russia’s General Staff Valery Gerasimov visited the country late last week and into the weekend. Some Ukrainian reports claimed Gerasimov was wounded in a Ukrainian strike during the visit, but the U.S. has not confirmed that report.
RUSSIAN MILITARY IS NOW STORMING MARIUPOL STEEL FACTORY, UKRAINIAN FORCES SAY
While Russia appears to remain committed to taking Ukraine’s second-largest city, Kharkiv, Ukrainian forces have succeeded in pushing the Russians 20-30 miles outside the city, according to the official.
Russian Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu, right, and Chief of the General Staff Valery Gerasimov attend a meeting with Russian President Putin in Moscow Feb. 27, 2022. (Alexey NikolskySPUTNIK/AFP via Getty Images)
Russian strikes have also had virtually no impact on the West’s ability to grant aid to Ukrainian forces and civilians.
Ukraine reported earlier Wednesday that Russia had begun a “powerful” assault on Ukraine’s last stronghold in the city of Mariupol. Mariupol has seen near-constant shelling from Russian troops since the invasion began in late February.
Ukrainian forces were holding out in a steel factory for weeks. While the Kremlin denied an assault on the facility Wednesday, Ukrainian officials say they lost contact with the forces there.
Russian President Vladimir Putin, right, and Head of the General Staff of the Armed Forces of Russia and First Deputy Defense Minister Valery Gerasimov arrive to attend military exercises about 80 kilometers (50 miles) north of the city of Chita during the military exercises Vostok 2018 in Eastern Siberia, Russia, Sept. 13, 2018. (Alexei Nikolsky, Sputnik, Kremlin Pool Photo via AP)
The two militaries agreed to a brief cease-fire this weekend to evacuate some civilians from the plant. Mariupol Mayor Vadym Boichenko clarified Tuesday that the majority of those evacuated were refugees from other cities, not Mariupol residents.
“The previous evacuation, which took place yesterday, which was presented by a number of media outlets as information that those were the residents of Mariupol who left is not true. These people who were evacuated had nothing to do with the residents of Mariupol. They are from other cities,” Boichenko said.