Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky appointed the mayor of an occupied city who was once abducted by Russia as the new head of the country's southern embattled Zaporizhzhia region, his office said on Sunday.

Zelensky made the announcement as he visited the southern front on Sunday, including meeting troops in the frontline village and fighting hotspot of Robotyne, which has been heavily attacked by Russia.  

"The head of state introduced the newly appointed head of the Zaporizhzhia regional state administration Ivan Federov, who has been the mayor of the now temporarily occupied Melitopol since December 2020 and was in Russian captivity," Zelensky's office said in a statement.  


Melitopol, a city 130 kilometres (80 miles) south of Zaporizhzhia, fell to Russian troops in the first weeks of their invasion in 2022. 


Fedorov, 35, was abducted in March 2022 by Russian soldiers as they entered his city after refusing to cooperate with Moscow. 

He was held in captivity before being swapped for a group of young Russian soldiers that same month. 

Fedorov replaces previous governor Yuriy Malashko, who on Telegram said he was handing over authority to a "new team".

"My goal is for all people who really want to return home to be able to do so as soon as possible," Fedorov said, according to the presidential office. 

"But in the city of Zaporizhzhia life must go on as well. People should believe in Zaporizhzhia and Ukraine," he added.

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Trump's frequent praise for Putin and reluctance to outright criticize the Russian invasion have stirred concerns among Ukraine's allies that he would force the country into accepting partial defeat.

Zaporizhzhia is a major city that is under Ukrainian control but has suffered deadly attacks. 

It is about 50 kilometres from the front and territory held by Russian forces. 

Zaporizhzhia is one of four regions the Kremlin has claimed to have annexed but does not fully control. 

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