Russian President Vladimir Putin has conferred with military commanders in the Russian-occupied Ukrainian regions of Kherson and Luhansk.
Reuters reported that commanders of the airborne forces and the 'Dnieper' army group briefed the Russian president on the situation in the territories of Kherson and Zaporizhzhia.
According to reports, he also met with the general in command of airborne troops, who reportedly assumed a significant new role in the invasion. Putin told commanders in a Kremlin-released video, "It is important for me to hear your opinion on how the situation is developing, to listen to you, and to exchange information."
Putin is seen in the video wearing a heavy blue overcoat and boarding a helicopter for Luhansk. Colonel Generals Mikhail Teplinsky, the commander of Russia's airborne forces, and Oleg Makarevich were also seen with the Russian president.
It is unclear when the visits occurred, but Putin met with Chinese Defense Minister Li Shangfu on Sunday in Moscow. This is the president's second visit to occupied Ukraine, following his trip to Mariupol and Crimea last month.
In September, Russia annexed the regions of Kherson and Luhansk and Donetsk, and Zaporizhia.
The visit also coincides with allegations from British military intelligence that Teplinsky has been assigned a significant war role.
In the eastern Ukrainian city of Bakhmut, the Russian military has increased the use of heavy artillery and airstrikes. The strategically significant city has been the scene of intense combat for many months.
According to Ukrainian General Oleksandr Syrskyi, who was quoted by Reuters, "The enemy is currently increasing the use of heavy artillery and the number of airstrikes, reducing the city to rubble." He stated that Russia remained committed to capturing Bakhmut "at any cost" despite sustaining significant losses in the city's battle.
Officials from Ukraine have stated that they are purchasing time by depleting Russian forces in the battle while preparing a counteroffensive. Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy has argued that if Russia wins the fight against Bakhmut, Putin could begin building international support for an agreement requiring Ukraine to make inadmissible concessions to end the conflict.