Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky has returned to the front line near Bakhmut where fighting has raged for months.

The devastated city has long been a focal point of the war as Russian forces try to revive their military campaign in the east.

His visit came as Russian forces launched a series of strikes on Ukrainian cities.

At least eight people were killed near Kyiv and in Zaporizhzhia.

While President Zelensky condemned Russia’s ”bestial” attacks on civilians, he also visited the eastern front line, where Ukrainian forces have held Russia at bay for more than seven months. He last visited the area in December.

Footage released by the President’s office showed him in an old industrial warehouse giving medals to battle-weary soldiers. ”I am honoured to be here today,” he told servicemen, ”in the east of our country, in Donbas, and to award our heroes, to thank you, to shake your hands.”

UK military intelligence said on Wednesday that a Ukrainian counter-attack to the west of Bakhmut was likely to relieve pressure on the main supply route to the city, and that Russia’s attack on the city could be losing the ”limited momentum” it had.

”Fighting continues around the town centre and the Ukrainian defence remains at risk from envelopment from the north and south,” the statement added.

Meanwhile, Russian occupation officials in Crimea said that a drone attack on the port city of Sevastopol had been repelled, days after President Vladimir Putin visited the city.

Explosions were reported by residents, but the Russian-installed governor said three ”objects” targeting the Black Sea Fleet had been destroyed and Russian warships were not damaged.

There was no comment from Ukraine’s military, which said earlier this week it had destroyed missiles destined for the fleet at a rail hub in Dzhankoi in northern Crimea.

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