Russian president Vladimir Putin visited the southern military district headquarters in Rostov-on-Don as he assessed the state of his country’s forces in Ukraine as the war drags on toward winter.
It was his second public visit to the headquarters in less than a month.
Video shared by a Russian state news agency showed Mr Putin being greeted late on Thursday by defence minister Sergey Shoigu and Valery Gerasimov, chief of the general staff.
Almost 21 months of war have significantly eroded both Russia’s and Ukraine’s military resources.
As winter comes, the fighting is likely to further settle into attritional warfare and analysts expect little change to the more than 600-mile long front line.
Shortly after Putin’s visit to the military headquarters, Kremlin spokesperson Dmitry Peskov said Russia was pressing ahead with its goals in Ukraine.
“In the absence of conditions for a political-diplomatic settlement, we are continuing the special military operation,” Mr Peskov said.
Commenting on Ukrainian president Volodymyr Zelenskyy’s promise of new gains by Kyiv’s forces, Mr Peskov said: “President Zelenskyy has been frantically promising military successes to his donors, who are worried.”
He added: “They should realise that they won’t score a battlefield victory. The sooner they come to realise that, the earlier conditions for a settlement could emerge.”
In Rostov-on-Don, less than 60 miles from Ukraine’s south-eastern border, Mr Putin was “introduced to new types of military equipment” and was informed about the progress of the war, his spokesperson Dmitry Peskov said, according to Russian state news agency Tass.
Mr Putin made the visit on the way back from a trip to Kazakhstan, where he aimed to cement ties with Russia’s ex-Soviet neighbour and major economic partner in the midst of tensions with the West over Ukraine.
Around the time that Putin was visiting his southern military headquarters, Russia launched a drone attack on Ukraine.
The Ukrainian air force said it intercepted five drones and one missile launched at the Dnipropetrovsk, Kharkiv, Mykolaiv, Poltava and Kyiv regions of Ukraine.
Another drone and missile were not intercepted but there were no immediate official reports of casualties or damage as a result of the attacks.