Defiant Putin visits occupied Mariupol, symbol of Ukrainian resistance


Vladimir Putin has made a shock go to to Russian-occupied Mariupol, a metropolis his forces left in ruins after they captured it final 12 months.

The Russian president’s first go to to occupied Ukrainian territory is an obvious act of defiance, coming simply days after the Worldwide Felony Court docket issued an arrest warrant for him.

Putin was flown into Mariupol by helicopter and toured districts across the metropolis in a automobile, footage launched by Russian authorities confirmed.

The Russian president is proven assembly seemingly stunned residents. Putin tells one man “we have to begin attending to know one another higher.”

A Kremlin assertion didn’t say when the go to befell, though on Saturday he visited Crimea to mark the ninth anniversary of its annexation.

The entire footage launched of Putin’s go to is after darkish, a attainable method for the authorities to hide harm.

Information of the go to comes after the ICC issued arrest warrants on Friday for Putin and Russian official Maria Lvova-Belova for an alleged scheme to deport Ukrainian youngsters to Russia. Putin is but to touch upon the warrant.

The go to is prone to be seen as notably provocative to Ukrainians as Mariupol was lengthy an emblem of resistance that has witnessed a number of the most intense preventing since Russia launched its invasion final 12 months.

Through the journey, the Kremlin stated Putin additionally examined the shoreline of Mariupol, visiting a yacht membership and theater constructing.

Russian Deputy Prime Minister Marat Khusnullin, who accompanied him, spoke intimately to Putin about “ongoing building and restoration work” within the metropolis.

Within the video, Khusnullin tells Putin: “There’s a plan to reconstruct it by the tip of the third 12 months. We plan for it to be a totally practical airport able to making flights to all cities of Russia and overseas.”

The Kremlin added that Putin held a gathering on the command submit of the particular army operation – Russia’s description of its invasion – in Rostov-on-Don.

A Ukrainian MP, Oleksii Honcharenko, blasted the go to, calling Putin a “conflict prison” Putin on Sunday, questioning the timing of his go to to Mariupol.

Questioning its timing, he requested in a Telegram submit: “Did the conflict prison come to see along with his personal eyes the genocide he dedicated in Mariupol? Why at evening? Is he afraid?”

Mariupol, a port metropolis on the Sea of Azov, is situated in Ukraine’s Donetsk Oblast and has been underneath direct Russian management since Could 2022.

It was in Mariupol that Russian forces carried out a few of their most infamous strikes, together with an assault on a maternity ward final March and the bombing of a theater which compelled lots of of civilians to hunt refuge.

Mariupol grew to become an emblem of Ukrainian resistance throughout weeks of relentless Russian assaults final 12 months. Famously, even when a lot of the metropolis had fallen, its defenders held out on the Azovstal metal plant for weeks earlier than the stronghold lastly fell.

Protection analysts beforehand advised CNN that Russian forces tried to flatten Mariupol to make town “simpler to regulate.”

Of the 450,000 individuals who lived within the metropolis earlier than the conflict, greater than a 3rd have already left.