Putin visits Mariupol as a part of shock tour of occupied Ukraine By Reuters

© Reuters. FILE PHOTO: Russia’s President Vladimir Putin holds talks with China’s President Xi Jinping by way of a video hyperlink from Moscow, Russia, December 30, 2022. Sputnik/Mikhail Kuravlev/Kremlin by way of REUTERS

By Lidia Kelly

(Reuters) -President Vladimir Putin made a shock weekend go to to the war-ravaged port of Mariupol, state media reported, the Kremlin chief’s first journey to the Russian-occupied territories of Ukraine’s Donbas area because the battle started.

The go to got here after Putin travelled to Crimea on Saturday in an unannounced go to to mark the ninth anniversary of Russia’s annexation of the peninsula from Ukraine, and simply two days after the Worldwide Felony Courtroom (ICC) issued an arrest warrant for the Russian chief.

Putin is but to remark publicly on the ICC warrant, however his journeys into Ukrainian territory claimed by Russia was seen by some observers as an act of defiance.

Mariupol fell in Might after one of many warfare’s longest and bloodiest battles, marking Russia’s first main victory after it didn’t seize Kyiv and centered as an alternative on southeastern Ukraine

The Group for Safety and Cooperation and Europe (OSCE) mentioned Russia’s early bombing of a maternity hospital there was a warfare crime.

Putin flew by helicopter to Mariupol for “a working journey”, Russian information businesses reported citing the Kremlin. He travelled round a number of districts of the town, making stops and speaking to residents.

It’s the closest to the entrance traces Putin has been because the year-long warfare started.

The ICC issued an arrest warrant on Friday in opposition to Putin, accusing him of the warfare crime of illegally deporting a whole lot of kids from Ukraine, a extremely symbolic transfer that isolates the Russian chief additional.

Whereas Ukraine’s President Volodymyr Zelenskiy has made numerous journeys to the battlefield to spice up the morale of his troops and speak technique, Putin has largely remained contained in the Kremlin whereas working what Russia calls its “particular navy operation” in Ukraine.

Kyiv and its allies say the invasion, now in its thirteenth month, is an imperialistic land seize that has killed hundreds and displaced tens of millions of individuals in Ukraine.


Within the Nevsky district of Mariupol, Putin visited a household of their house, Russian media reported. The brand new residential neighbourhood has been constructed by Russian navy with first individuals shifting in final September.

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

Mariupol had a inhabitants of half one million individuals earlier than the warfare and was house to the Azovstal metal plant, one among Europe’s largest.

“The downtown has been badly broken,” Khusnullin mentioned. “We need to end (reconstruction) of the centre by the top of the yr, no less than the facade half. The centre could be very lovely.”

Russian media broadcast movies displaying the Russian chief driving a automobile at night time via a built-up space in addition to strolling into what media mentioned was the philharmonic, restored in simply three months.

There was additionally no fast response to the go to from Kyiv.

Mariupol is within the Donetsk area, one of many 4 areas Putin moved in September to annex. Kyiv and its Western allies condemned the transfer as unlawful. Donetsk, along with the Luhansk area, comprise a lot of the Donbas industrialised a part of Ukraine that has seen the largest battle in Europe for generations.

Russian media reported on Sunday that Putin additionally met with the highest commander of his navy operation in Ukraine, together with Chief of the Normal Employees Valery Gerasimov who’s answerable for Moscow’s warfare in Ukraine.

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