President Volodymyr Zelensky made a surprise visit to the advanced positions of the Defense Forces in the Donetsk region and presented awards to the defenders of Bakhmut, the president's press service reported on Wednesday, March 22.

The Head of State listened to reports on the operational situation and the course of hostilities in this front sector, talked with servicemen, and thanked them for protecting Ukraine.

“I have the honor to be here today, in the east of our state, in the Donbas, and to reward our heroes, thank you, shake your hands. Thank you for defending the state, sovereignty, and the east of Ukraine,” the President said and presented state awards to the fighters.

In particular, the Order of the Golden Star was awarded to an artillery officer, Captain Ilya Vergun, who was previously awarded the title Hero of Ukraine.


 He has been fighting since February 24, 2022, and directly led anti-tank operations during the liberation of Trostyanets in the Sumy region. He also participated in deterring the enemy in the Battle of Izyum.

 “The units under his leadership and with the personal participation of Ilya Vergun destroyed a large number of enemy vehicles,” the President's Office press service added.

 Zelensky also said he had visited Ukrainian troops being treated for injuries, and video showed him touring a hospital with doctors and greeting recovering soldiers.

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OSCE condemned it as "a grave violation of participating states' commitments under international law" and called for the immediate release of Vadym Golda and two other jailed OSCE officials.

 The Ukrainian leader had visited servicemen inside Bakhmut late last year just ahead of a historic trip to the United States, his first trip abroad since the start of Russia's invasion last February.

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