Putin makes a surprise trip to Mariupol, first to the occupied Donbass in Ukraine

Mariupol: President Vladimir Putin paid a surprise visit to Mariupol, Russian state media reported today, in what would mark the Kremlin leader’s first trip to Russian-held areas of Ukraine’s Donbass region since the start of the war.

The visit comes after Putin made an unannounced visit to Crimea yesterday to celebrate the ninth anniversary of Russia’s annexation of the peninsula from Ukraine, and just two days after the International Criminal Court (ICC) issued an arrest warrant for the Russian guide had issued.

Mariupol, which fell to Russia in May after one of the longest and bloodiest battles of the war, was Russia’s first major victory after failing to capture Kiev and instead focusing on southeastern Ukraine.

Russian news agencies reported that Putin flew to Mariupol in a helicopter, citing the Kremlin. It is the closest to the front line since Putin has been in the years-long war. Putin drove through several districts of the city, making stops and talking to local residents.

After weeks of fighting, Mariupol on the Sea of ​​Azov became a smoldering shell. The Organization for Security and Co-operation and Europe (OSCE) said Russia’s early bombing of a Mariupol maternity hospital was a war crime.

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

While Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy has made a number of trips to the battlefield to boost his troops’ morale and discuss strategy, Putin has largely stayed in the Kremlin while directing what Russia calls its “military special operation” in Ukraine names.

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

In Mariupol’s Nevsky district, a new residential area being built by the Russian military, Putin visited a family at their home, Russian media reported.

“The head of state also examined the Mariupol coast in the area of ​​​​the yacht club, the theater building and the city’s memorable places,” the Interfax agency quoted the Kremlin press service as saying.

Mariupol is in the Donetsk region, one of the four regions that Putin annexed in September. Kiev and its western allies condemned the move as illegal. Donetsk, along with the Luhansk region, comprises most of the industrialized Donbass part of Ukraine, which has seen the biggest battle in Europe for generations.

Russian media reported Sunday that Putin also met with the supreme commander of his military operation in Ukraine, including Chief of Staff Valery Gerasimov, who is in charge of Moscow’s war in Ukraine. – Reuters

https://www.thesundaily.my/world/putin-makes-surprise-trip-to-mariupol-first-to-occupied-donbas-in-ukraine-JA10768155 Putin makes a surprise trip to Mariupol, first to the occupied Donbass in Ukraine

Russell Falcon

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