Putin inspects military headquarters in Rostov region

Russian President Vladimir Putin has visited a military headquarters in southern Russia near the Ukrainian border.

The Russian presidential office said on Friday that Putin came to the headquarters in Rostov-on-Don in the Rostov region.

The office also said he was accompanied by Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu and Chief of the General Staff Valery Gerasimov. It noted the president was briefed on the status of military operations and equipment.

Putin had visited the same location on October 20.

He is believed to have given instructions during this latest visit as Russian forces intensify offensives in eastern Ukraine.

In a video message to interior ministry officials made on Friday, Putin indicated that his government will step up control of four Ukrainian regions unilaterally annexed by Russia.

He said the effective performance of ministry officials is particularly important in the new constituent entities -- the Donetsk, Luhansk, Zaporizhzhia and Kherson regions.

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy said on Thursday that Avdiivka, Bakhmut and Maryinka in the Donetsk region, and Kupiansk in the Kharkiv region were the sites of the most intense fighting over the past day.

The Ukrainian military has been on the offensive in the southern part of the country. Their forces are believed to have crossed the Dnipro River last month to the eastern side and are likely conducting an operation.

US think tank, the Institute for the Study of War, said on Thursday that Russian forces are conducting defensive operations in the Zaporizhzhia region while sustaining offensive efforts in eastern Ukraine.

The institute also said the Russian military will likely struggle to redeploy effective reinforcements to respond to Ukrainian operations in the Kherson region.