- This content was produced in Russia, where coverage of Russian military operations in Ukraine is restricted by law
MOSCOW (Reuters) – The Kremlin said on Saturday that President Vladimir Putin had sought suggestions from the commanders of his armed forces on how they believed Russia’s military campaign in Ukraine should proceed during a visit to the operation’s headquarters.
A string of defeats in 10 months of fighting, leading to Russian withdrawals from areas around the capital Kyiv and Ukraine’s second city of Kharkiv and most recently from the city of Kherson, have forced Putin to call up reservists and prompted rare public criticism from military bloggers and some allies.
Since the appointment of Air Force General Sergei Surovikin in October to lead the campaign, Russia’s ground forces have focused more on defense than offense, while waves of air strikes on cities have left millions of Ukrainian civilians without heat, light or water for days on end. With the onset of winter.
In a video released by the Kremlin on Saturday, Putin presided over a meeting of about a dozen people at a circular table, flanked by Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu and Chief of the General Staff Valery Gerasimov — both of whom have been roundly criticized by hawkish commentators.
Then Putin appeared at the head of another conference table at Joint Task Force headquarters, calling for suggestions from a line of military leaders.
“We will listen to the leaders in every operational direction, and I would like to hear your proposals for our immediate and medium-term measures,” Putin said.
Surovkin was also shown attending the meetings in still photos on the Kremlin’s website.
His spokesman, Dmitry Peskov, told the Interfax news agency that Putin spent the entire Friday at the force’s headquarters.
No other details of Putin’s visit or the location of the headquarters were reported.
(Covering) Vladimir Soldatkin Editing by John Stonestreet, Kevin Levy and Frances Kerry
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