Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy visited the northeastern Sumy region to mark the anniversary of its recapture from Russian troops. The Associated Press was given exclusive access to a ceremony on Tuesday where Zelenskyy honored soldiers in the city center of Okhtyrka, which had a pre-war population of almost 50,000 people. In the early weeks of Russia's full-scale invasion last year, the city was the epicenter of fierce battles, though it was not occupied by Moscow's forces. People gathered at the square in front of a building colored in blue-yellow flag with “Okhtyrka is a hero city” written on it. “There is a border nearby that no occupant can erase,” Zelenskyy told the crowd, a reference to the long border Sumy shares with Russia. Zelenskyy then travelled to another city in the region — Trostianets — which the Ukrainian military recaptured one year ago, on March 26. The visits were not announced beforehand. He honored soldiers at the local railway station, close to a damaged railway building where survivors of the occupation say Russian forces set up torture sites in its basements.