Russia’s top general visits Ukraine as Putin’s army falters, US says

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The top Russian military official visited Ukraine on a fact-finding and monitoring mission as Russian forces make no progress in the invasion, according to a senior US defense official.

Russian Chief of Staff Valery Gerasimov visited the country late last week and over the weekend. Some Ukrainian reports claimed that Gerasimov was injured in a Ukrainian strike during the visit, but the United States has not confirmed this information.

RUSSIAN ARMY NOW TAKES MARIUPOL STEEL PLANT, UKRAINIAN FORCES SAY

While Russia appears to remain determined to take Ukraine’s second-largest city, Kharkiv, Ukrainian forces managed to push the Russians back 20-30 miles from the city, according to the official.

Russian Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu, right, and Chief of General Staff Valery Gerasimov attend a meeting with Russian President Putin in Moscow on February 27, 2022.
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Russian Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu, right, and Chief of General Staff Valery Gerasimov attend a meeting with Russian President Putin in Moscow on February 27, 2022.
(Alexey NikolskySPUTNIK/AFP via Getty Images)

The Russian strikes also had virtually no impact on the West’s ability to provide aid to Ukrainian forces and civilians.

Ukraine reported earlier on Wednesday that Russia had launched a “powerful” assault on Ukraine’s last stronghold in the city of Mariupol. Mariupol has seen near-constant shelling by Russian troops since the invasion began in late February.

Ukrainian forces held out in a steel mill for weeks. While the Kremlin denied an attack on the facility on Wednesday, Ukrainian officials said they had lost contact with forces there.

Russian President Vladimir Putin, right, and Chief of the General Staff of the Armed Forces of Russia and First Deputy Defense Minister Valery Gerasimov arrive to watch military exercises about 80 kilometers (50 miles) away north of the city of Chita during the Vostok 2018 military exercises in Eastern Siberia, Russia, September 13, 2018.

Russian President Vladimir Putin, right, and Chief of the General Staff of the Armed Forces of Russia and First Deputy Defense Minister Valery Gerasimov arrive to watch military exercises about 80 kilometers (50 miles) away north of the city of Chita during the Vostok 2018 military exercises in Eastern Siberia, Russia, September 13, 2018.
(Alexei Nikolsky, Sputnik, Kremlin Pool Photo via AP)

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The two soldiers agreed to a brief ceasefire this weekend to evacuate some civilians from the factory. Mariupol Mayor Vadym Boichenko clarified on Tuesday that the majority of those evacuated were refugees from other cities, not residents of Mariupol.

“The previous evacuation, which took place yesterday, which was presented by a number of media as information that it was the inhabitants of Mariupol who left is not true. These people who were evacuated do not had nothing to do with the people of Mariupol. They come from other cities,” Boichenko said.

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