Ukraine's Zelenskiy praises 'advances' after visiting front sectors

KYIV (Reuters) -President Volodymyr Zelenskiy praised Ukrainian troops for advancing "in all sectors" on Monday after spending the day posing with and handing awards to front-line soldiers in the east and south of the country.

"Today in all sectors, our soldiers made advances. It is a happy day," Zelenskiy said in his nightly video address, delivered from a train after visiting two frontline areas.

The president's office posted four videos of Zelenskiy's journey, which he said covered "hundreds of kilometres" and appeared to present encounters in at least three locations.

One site was in eastern Donetsk region, a focal point in the 16-month-old conflict; one was located in what was described as the Berdiansk sector in the south -- in areas where Ukrainian forces have captured villages; and another was also on the southern front, further to the west.

In the last of the videos, Zelenskiy said he had seen "various brigades, all different and absolutely heroic people.

"Different but with one goal -- victory over the Raschists," he said, in a derogatory reference to Russian soldiers.

The visit to Donetsk region, according to the president's office, involved the Khortytsia operational-strategic group, including soldiers who have fought Russian troops in the Bakhmut sector, where battles have been intense.

The first video showed Zelenskiy handing out awards at an undisclosed indoor location and poring over maps with Oleksandr Syrskyi, commander of Ukraine's ground forces.

"I have the honour to be here today, talk to the commander and first of all thank you, thank you for protecting our country, sovereignty, our families, children, Ukraine," Zelenskiy said.

A second video showed Zelenskiy at a fuel station. Dressed in his trademark military khaki T-shirt, he stood alongside troops in a queue at a counter and posed for photos with the soldiers and women working there.

In the third video, Zelenskiy hands out awards, poses with soldiers and again examines maps with officers. Loud booms resound at least twice during the video.

Deputy Defence Minister Hanna Maliar said on Monday that Ukrainian forces had regained control over Rivnopil, a village west of a cluster of settlements recaptured in offensive operations. The village appeared to be the ninth retaken by Ukraine this month.

Ukraine says it has been making advances since launching a counteroffensive, but Russian forces still hold swathes of Ukrainian territory following their invasion in February 2022.

(Reporting by Anna Pruchnicka and Kyiv newsroom, Editing by Timothy Heritage, Ron Popeski, Sandra Maler and Leslie Adler)