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Valery Gerasimov, chief of the general staff of Russia’s armed forces, has visited Russian troops in Ukraine’s Zaporizhzhia region, the Russian defence ministry said on Tuesday.

It said Gerasimov inspected a command centre and underscored the importance of preemptive strikes against Ukrainian forces.

An accompanying video showed him poring over a map, receiving briefings and climbing into a helicopter.

Gerasimov was for many months the target of savage criticism from Wagner mercenary leader Yevgeny Prigozhin and some Russian military bloggers over Russia’s failings in the war.

After Wagner staged a brief mutiny against the defence establishment on June 24, there were questions as to whether Gerasimov would keep his job.

More than two weeks elapsed before he was first seen again in public, on July 10.

Tuesday’s statement and video seemed designed to show that he not only remains in his post but is actively engaged with troops on the front line.

The Zaporizhzhia region has seen some of the fiercest fighting of recent weeks, since Ukraine launched a counteroffensive in early June.

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