Vladimir Putin has been outshone by President Zelensky in his attempts to embody a strong wartime leader. While the Russian leader was praised for “working all day” with miliary forces at his headquarters and handing out awards to Russian-appointed heads of annexed Ukraine back in Moscow, President Zelensky travelled to the dangerous frontline in Bakhmut.
He was pictured shaking hands with soldiers fresh from fighting in the trenches.
The closest Putin has gotten to Ukraine since the invasion was crossing the Kerch Bridge connecting mainland Russia to the country.
Russian state TV is “likely” to ignore the Ukrainian leader’s visit, according to The Telegraph, however the Kremlin still appeared disappointed with their President’s lack of touch with frontline troops.
Former Russian-backed leader in Ukraine jokingly said of the Kremlin’s award ceremony: “Zelensky went to Bakhmut to give awards to his soldiers fighting on the frontlines against us while Vladimir Vladimirovich (Putin) is honouring his heroes right at the Kremlin: Just look at those honest, brave faces!”
Fighting in Bakhmut has dragged on for months, although Russia’s defence ministry spokesman has been speaking of “successful advances” there has been little evidence that the frontline has moved at all.
One of the men leading Moscow’s forces in the area is Yevgeny Prigozhin, head of the powerful Wagner mercenary group.
Known as Putin’s chef after his time catering in the Kremlin, it is thought Mr Prigozhin could soon emerge as a threat to Putin’s leadership due to his growing influence.
READ MORE: Ten months on from invasion, Putin admits war is ‘difficult’
This comes as President Zelensky is expected to visit President Biden in a trip to the US this week, the first time he has left Ukraine since the invasion began on February 24.
It is thought he may address Congress in Washington, although there has been no official confirmation.
In a letter on Tuesday, Democratic House Speaker Nancy Pelosi urged members of Congress to be in attendance on Wednesday night for a “very special focus on democracy”.