Putin visits Mariupol as part of a surprise tour of occupied Ukraine – Thelocalreport.in

President Vladimir Putin paid a surprise weekend visit to the war-torn Mariupol port, state media reported, the Kremlin leader’s first trip to Russian-occupied territories in Ukraine’s Donbas region since the conflict began. .

The visit came after Putin traveled to Crimea on Saturday on an unannounced visit to mark the ninth anniversary of Russia’s annexation of the peninsula to Ukraine, and just two days after the International Criminal Court (ICC) issue an arrest warrant for the Russian leader.

Putin has yet to comment publicly on the ICC order, but some observers viewed his trips to Russian-claimed Ukrainian territory as an act of defiance.

Mariupol fell in May after one of the longest and bloodiest battles of the war, marking Russia’s first major victory after it failed to seize Kiev and focused instead on southeastern Ukraine.

The Organization for Security and Cooperation and Europe (OSCE) said Russia’s early bombing of a maternity hospital there was a war crime.

Putin flew by helicopter to Mariupol for “a business trip,” Russian news agencies reported, citing the Kremlin.

He toured various districts of the city, making stops and talking with the neighbors.

It is the closest Putin has come to the front lines since the year-long war began.

The ICC issued an arrest warrant on Friday for Putin, charging him with the war crime of illegally deporting hundreds of children from Ukraine, a highly symbolic move that further isolates the Russian leader.

While Ukraine’s President Volodymyr Zelenskiy has made a series of trips to the battlefield to boost his troops’ morale and discuss strategy, Putin has remained largely inside the Kremlin as he runs what Russia calls its “operation special military” in Ukraine.

kyiv and its allies say the invasion, now in its 13th month, is an imperialist land grab that has killed thousands and displaced millions in Ukraine.


In Mariupol’s Nevsky district, Putin visited a family at their home, Russian media reported. The new residential neighborhood has been built by the Russian army and the first people moved in last September.

Residents have been “actively” returning, Russia’s Deputy Prime Minister Marat Khusnullin, who accompanied Putin, was quoted as saying by Russian agencies.

Mariupol had a population of half a million before the war and was home to the Azovstal steel plant, one of the largest in Europe.

“The city center has been badly damaged,” Khusnullin said. “We want to finish (the reconstruction) of the center by the end of the year, at least the part of the façade. The center is very nice.”

Russian media released videos showing the Russian leader driving a car at night through a built-up area and walking towards what the media said was the Philharmonic, restored in just three months.

There was also no immediate reaction to the kyiv visit.

Mariupol is in the Donetsk region, one of four regions that Putin moved in September to annex. kyiv and its Western allies condemned the move as illegal.

Donetsk, together with the Luhansk region, comprises most of the industrialized part of Ukraine’s Donbas that has seen the biggest battle in Europe for generations.

Russian media reported on Sunday that Putin also met the top commander of his military operation in Ukraine, including the chief of the General Staff, Valery Gerasimov, who is in charge of Moscow’s war in Ukraine.

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