Defense Minister Rustem Umerov, Commander-in-Chief Valerii Zaluzhnyi, and Chief of the General Staff Serhii Shaptala visited Ukrainian army positions near Kupiansk in Kharkiv Oblast, the Defense Ministry reported on Jan. 9.
Liberated from Russian occupation during Ukraine's counteroffensive in September 2022, Kupiansk has been a critical target for renewed Russian offensives, as it serves as a key logistics hub for a potential push further south or west.
"I had the honor to meet with the commanders of the units that are fighting in this direction now," Umerov said.
The command of the Armed Forces and minister discussed the situation on the ground and the current challenges soldiers are facing, Umerov said.
Ground Forces Commander Oleksandr Syrskyi, who heads Ukraine's military operations in the east, also attended the meeting.
Syrskyi said on Dec. 11 that Russia is trying to capture the village of Synkivka in Kharkiv Oblast, hoping to pave the way for the blockade of nearby Kupiansk.
The U.S.-based think tank Institute for the Study of War (ISW) warned on Jan. 5 that Russian forces may scale up offensive operations in Kharkiv Oblast in an attempt to seize Kupiansk in the coming weeks.
However, the tempo of operations and configuration of Moscow's troops in the area does not suggest a major offensive "along the entire Kupiansk-Lyman line, similar to the failed Russian offensive effort in northeastern Ukraine in winter-spring 2023," the ISW said.
Umerov previously visited a military command post near Kupiansk with President Volodymyr Zelensky on Nov. 30.