LVIV, Ukraine — President Volodymyr Zelensky of Ukraine on Saturday morning made an unannounced visit to Mykolaiv, a southern Ukrainian city battered by the war that has been held up by Kyiv as a sign of fierce resistance, and the nearby port city of Odesa.
The visit by Mr. Zelensky, his first to the city, came one day after President Vladimir V. Putin of Russia in a defiant address sought to rally support and blame the West for the ongoing fallout of the war, as the two leaders battle to convince their publics and the world that they have the upper hand in the fighting.
In the early weeks of the war, Mr. Zelensky had been a fixture in Kyiv, the Ukrainian capital, often delivering addresses to the nation from easily identifiable locations, as he sought to steady his shellshocked citizenry.
But increasingly, he has ventured closer to the front lines, a demonstration that his forces have a sufficiently firm grip on these volatile areas to allow him to move about safely. The trips have become a tool to lift morale among the troops and the public, and to distract from the terrible losses being inflicted as fierce fighting continues.