Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky has made an unannounced visit to the frontline city of Bakhmut, where Ukrainian and Russian forces have fought a fierce, months-long battle.
He met troops and handed out awards to soldiers, the presidency said.
For months, Bakhmut has been a key target for Russian forces in the Donetsk region, and has been extremely badly damaged.
However, Ukrainian forces have been able to hold back the advance.
The visit is a significant show of defiance – and a demonstration of support for Ukrainian forces engaged in some of the fiercest battles in recent weeks.
His trip will be compared with recent public appearances by the Russian President Vladimir Putin – who on Monday travelled to Minsk for the first time in more than three years to meet Belarusian President Alexander Lukashenko, a long-time ally.
In video footage shown on the Freedom TV channel on Telegram, Mr Zelensky wished his troops well.
“I think that the heroes of Bakhmut should have what every person has, that everything should be OK for their children, their families, that they’re warm and healthy,” he said.
“I’d like to wish them light, but it’s such a difficult situation that there is light and then there isn’t. The main thing is for there to be inner light.”
He said the Russians had already lost 99,000 troops in the war. However, this figure cannot be independently verified, and neither Russia nor Ukraine have revealed the full extent of their casualties.
Mr Zelensky added: “Since May, the occupiers have been trying to break our Bakhmut, but time goes by and Bakhmut is breaking not only the Russian army, but also the Russian mercenaries who come to replace the wasted army of the occupiers.”
He was apparently referring to the shadowy Wagner mercenary group, which has been active in fighting near Bakhmut.
Presidential spokesman Serhiy Nikiforov said Mr Zelensky had left the city before his visit was announced.
The president has previously visited other recently liberated cities, such as Kherson and Izyum. (BBC)