June 20, 2022
Bottles of vodka labeled “Zelensky’s Tears” are being sold on the shelves of Moscow supermarkets, a video circulating on social media appears to show, as Russian President Vladimir Putin‘s forces made gains in Ukraine over the weekend.
As Putin’s troops launched an assault on Sunday near Severodonetsk, a strategically vital city in Ukraine’s east, a video circulating on social media purported to show that a bottle of vodka called “Zelensky’s Tears” is on sale in Moscow’s supermarkets.
The seven-second clip shows a man holding the bottle in his right hand. It reads “Zelensky’s Tears” in Russian, with “limited edition” written below in English. The bottle also depicts the Ukrainian president apparently wiping a tear from his right eye.
Russian vodka brands include Putinka, Medvedevka and Yeltsinka. Now “Zelensky’s Tears” is apparently on sale at Moscow’s supermarkets. pic.twitter.com/zqybhDsFDd
— Matthew Luxmoore (@mjluxmoore) June 19, 2022
“It’s a joke,” said the man who filmed the clip, “that they are selling ‘Zelensky’s Tears’ vodka in Moscow supermarkets.”
Newsweek has been unable to independently verify where the video was taken, or the authenticity of the vodka bottle.
The video comes as Russian troops have massed near Severodonetsk in an attempt to capture the city in Ukraine’s east. If Moscow succeeds in seizing it, along with its twin city Lysychansk, the move would leave all of the Luhansk region under Russian control and hand the Kremlin a form of military victory.
Putin, who launched the Ukraine war on February 24, appears to now be focused on capturing the whole of the Luhansk and Donetsk regions after failing to seize the capital Kyiv in the early stages of the conflict.
A regional official said on Monday that Russian forces had seized the town of Metelkine, close to Severodonetsk.
“Unfortunately, we do not currently control Metelkine near the regional center,” said Serhiy Gaidai, the head of the Luhansk Regional Military administration.
“They are working hard on the Severodonetsk industrial zone and the outskirts of the city,” Gaidai continued. “The same is true in the Toshkivka and Ustynivka districts.”
The regional official said Russian forces had gathered a large amount of equipment in the region and that the “situation remains difficult.”
“Fighting is taking place in many villages around Severodonetsk and Lysychansk,” Gaidai added.
Russian state news agency TASS reported that many Ukrainian troops had surrendered in Metelkine.
The U.K.’s Ministry of Defence said on Monday that Russian ground and tactical air operations remained focused on the central Donbas sector of eastern Ukraine over the weekend.
Latest Defence Intelligence update on the situation in Ukraine – 20 June 2022
Find out more about the UK government's response: https://t.co/HLNJBEbcJV
— Ministry of Defence 🇬🇧 (@DefenceHQ) June 20, 2022
On Sunday, the ministry’s intelligence update stated that Russia and Ukraine continued heavy bombardment around Severodonetsk “with little change to the front line.
Newsweek has contacted Russia’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs for comment.