Vladimir Putin visits occupied Ukrainian city of Mariupol, Russian state media reports | World News
Russian media reported that Russian President Vladimir Putin visited the occupied Ukrainian city of Mariupol.
The president made what state media described as a “business trip” to the port city he annexed last September after of Russia invasion of Ukraine.
Russia’s state news agency TASS, citing a Kremlin source, reported that Putin arrived by helicopter and went around several districts of the city, stopping and talking to people.
This is believed to be his first trip to Russian-occupied Ukraine since the invasion last year.
The visit comes after widespread condemnation annexation of the regions of Donetsk, Kherson, Luhansk and Zaporizhzhia in September.
The visit came as well Putin visits Crimea on the 9th anniversary of the annexation of the Black Sea peninsula from Ukraine in 2014.
Most of the world considers Russia’s annexation illegal, while Ukraine has vowed to fight to regain these regions.
Mariupola city of strategic importance located in the Donetsk Oblast and next to the Sea of Azov, the site of some of the fiercest fighting in the early stages of the war.
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Ukrainian forces entrenched themselves in the city’s Azovstal steel mill for one last defence, which ended with the surrender in May after a three-month siege of the facility by Russia.
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Besides the visit, Russian media reported that Putin met the top commander of his military operation in Ukraine, including Chief of the General Staff Valery Gerasimov.
The meeting is said to have taken place at the Rostov-on-Don command post, in southern Russia, near the border with Ukraine, according to TASS.
On Saturday, the Russian president made the 1,132-mile journey by plane from Moscow to Sevastopol – Crimea’s largest city – a day after the International Criminal Court ruled. arrest warrant for him.
The court said he was responsible for the abduction of hundreds of Ukrainian children since Russia’s all-out invasion of the country began last February.
In Crimea, he was greeted by Mikhail Razvozhayev – the Russian-appointed governor of Sevastopol – before visiting an art school and children’s center.
Putin’s remarks were not covered by state media, but just Friday he spoke of the importance of holding on to Crimea.
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“Clearly, security issues are now a top priority for Crimea and Sevastopol,” he said.
“We will do everything necessary to counter any threat.”
Mr Putin has not publicly commented on the International Criminal Court’s arrest warrant, but his spokesman called the order “null and void” on Friday.
Russia does not recognize the jurisdiction of the court based in The Hague.
It also does not extradite its citizens to face court justice, meaning Mr. Putin will never face trial there.