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“Artillery Has Picked Up Exponentially”: Putin’s Revenge for Zelensky Visit?

Russian troops fire rocket artillery during an exercise at the Luga training ground (Leningrad region), dedicated to Missile Troops and Artillery. Photo: Konstantin Morozov /

As Zelenskyy Visited the White House, Russia Intensifies Strikes In Ukraine: Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy made his first trip outside of Ukraine on Wednesday, visiting the White House and meeting with President Joe Biden.

White House press secretary Karine Jean-Pierre said in a statement that the visit underscores the “steadfast commitment” of the White House to supporting Ukraine “for as long as it takes.”

The visit comes on the same day that the United States Department of Defense announced an additional $1.85 billion in further security aid for Ukraine.

In a joint press conference with the Ukrainian President, President Joe Biden reiterated his press secretary’s promise to help Ukraine for “as long as it takes” and told reporters that Russia continues to target key Ukrainian infrastructure.

“We should be clear about what Russia is doing – it is purposefully attacking Ukraine’s critical infrastructure, destroying the systems that provide heat and light to the Ukrainian people during the coldest, darkest part of the year. Russia is using winter as a weapon,” Biden said.

The U.S. president also defended Zelenskyy’s trip to the states, suggesting that it was important for the American people to hear directly from the Ukrainian president about the importance of fighting Russian aggression through 2023.

“We really fight for our common victory against this tyranny. And that is real life. And we will win. And I really want [to] win together. Not want, I am sure,” Zelenskyy told reporters.

Is Russia Intensifying Strikes In Zelenskyy’s Absence?

Retired U.S. Army SGT Jonathan Lubecky, currently in Ukraine delivering aid to local people just 10 miles from the front lines in Donetsk, tells 19FortyFive that Russian strikes in Ukraine appear to have intensified immediately following the announcement that Zelenskyy had left the country.

“I can tell you point blank, the artillery has picked up exponentially today and ever since it was publicly released that Zelenskyy is in DC,” Lubecky told 19FortyFive on Wednesday.

When asked whether the strikes have intensified beyond Donetsk Oblast, Lubecky said that he only has a view of Donetsk but assumes it is not the only region witnessing increased strikes.

“I only have a view on Donetsk. I don’t know about other areas,” Lubecky said. “I’m assuming yes but I’ve talked to everyone around here and artillery is heavier.”

“I’ve been here three days, the first two days your could hear artillery and there was a cadence to it. Today that cadence dramatically picked up to the point of near constant,” he continued. 

Zelenskyy’s absence does not mean the Ukrainian military will function any differently on the battlefield. Increased artillery and missile strikes in Donetsk and beyond could be entirely symbolic, they may be strategic, or they may simply be the culmination of months of Russian bombardments on Ukraine designed to prevent new Ukrainian counter-offensives.

In Lubecky’s eyes, it could be part of a strategy to prepare for a new offensive in the spring.

“Think about Normandy. What did the Allies do? They shelled the land to clear the ground and then they landed,” Lubecky told 19Forty Five.

When asked whether he believes the rumors of a new offensive in the new year are true, he responded, “Assuming Putin’s still alive, yes.”

Jack Buckby is 19FortyFive’s Breaking News Editor.

Written By

Jack Buckby is 19FortyFive's Breaking News Editor. He is a British author, counter-extremism researcher, and journalist based in New York. Reporting on the U.K., Europe, and the U.S., he works to analyze and understand left-wing and right-wing radicalization, and reports on Western governments’ approaches to the pressing issues of today. His books and research papers explore these themes and propose pragmatic solutions to our increasingly polarized society.