Vladimir Putin’s frontline in Ukraine has spectacularly collapsed within just days – but the Kremlin leader has refused to acknowledge the retreat. On Saturday, President Putin instead praised Russian officials for doing a “great job” in Ukraine. He also spent the day opening the largest Ferris Wheel in Europe, in an out-of-touch ceremony that one BBC journalist described as “surreal”.
Commemorating Moscow City Day on Saturday, President Putin spoke with officials and delivered a speech praising Moscow’s role in the Ukrainian war.
He claimed that “Moscow specialists are already doing a great job in reviving the capitals of the Donetsk and the Lugansk people’s republics”.
President Putin claimed Russians were helping to “rebuild damaged residential buildings, roads, schools, doing everything to prepare Donetsk and Luhansk for the winter period”.
However, he did not acknowledge the dramatic collapse of the Russian frontline nor the remarkable game-changing advances of Ukrainian forces.
JUST IN: Iranian Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei ‘on death bed with cancer’
This week’s counter-offensive in the Kharkiv region marks the most significant Ukrainian advance since Russia withdrew from areas around Kyiv in April.
Politico’s Christopher Miller reported: “It is absolutely stunning how quickly Ukrainian forces have retaken territory in the east and forced Russian troops to retreat — and they’re still on the move.
“Big victory for Kyiv and humiliating blow to Russia and Putin — but at least he opened that Ferris wheel in Moscow today.”
BBC’s Steve Rosenberg echoed this: “On the day Russian forces retreated from occupied areas of Kharkiv region and Ukrainian forces reported major gains, back in Moscow Vladimir Putin was inaugurating a giant Ferris wheel and there was a fireworks display to celebrate city day. Surreal.”
Associated Press White House correspondent Chris Megerian wrote, “I’m trying to imagine the political blowback for an American president opening a new amusement park ride while the US military retreats.”
Several pro-Russian military bloggers sharply criticised President Putin for going ahead with the celebrations of the Ferris Wheel.
President Putin also released a video encouraging Russians to cast a vote in Sunday’s local and regional elections.
The BBC’s Francis Scarr tweeted: “For the time being, Putin isn’t reacting publicly to the setbacks now being encountered in his ‘special military operation’.
“Instead, this morning the Kremlin released a video in which he encourages Russians to cast e-votes in tomorrow’s local and regional ‘Single Voting Day’.”
Aerial footage captures Russia’s humiliating retreat – WATCH [VIDEO]
Ukraine breakthrough MAPPED: Zelensky’s army now just 25km from Russia [MAP]
Princess Anne and Sophie Wessex curtsy as they welcome Queen’s coffin [VIDEO]