Russian President Vladimir Putin visited the Russian-occupied Kherson region in Ukraine to rally troops and to commemorate Orthodox Easter, which was celebrated on Sunday, the Kremlin announced Tuesday.

Putin visits occupied regions in Ukraine

As seen in a video released by the Kremlin, Putin met with troops at military headquarters in the Kherson region before flying to the Luhansk province, where he visited the headquarters of the Russian National Guard.

Both of the Ukrainian regions that he visited were annexed by Russia last year, BBC reported.

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The move “represented an apparent attempt by the Russian leader to rally his troops and demonstrate his authority,” according to The Associated Press.

The unexpected visit is the Russian president’s second trip to Ukraine in the span of two months. In March, Putin traveled to the occupied city of Mariupol, where he toured the city by night and spoke to residents, the Deseret News previously reported

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Mykhailo Podolyak, an advisor to Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy, responded to Putin’s surprise visit by calling it a tour to “enjoy the crimes of his minions for the last time.”

Russian court upholds U.S. journalist’s detention

Meanwhile, Wall Street Journal reporter Evan Gershkovich appealed his pre-trial detention but was rejected by a Russian court Tuesday, The Associated Press reported.

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Russia accused the American journalist of espionage, a claim that the U.S. denies.

Gershkovich is currently being held in a pre-trial detention center until May 29, per CNN.

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