Ukraine: Putin visited Mariupol, first visit to the occupied zone | War in Ukraine

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Ukraine: Putin visited Mariupol, first visit to occupied zone | War in Ukraine

Mariupol was besieged for months by Russian forces before falling in May 2022.

Vladimir Putin visited Mariupol, a Ukrainian city devastated by the bombardments, his first visit to the occupied zone since the beginning of the Russian offensive in Ukraine, the Kremlin reported on Sunday, after the deliverance of an international arrest warrant for the Russian President.

He went to Mariupol by helicopter and drove a car around the city, clarified the Kremlin press service on Sunday.

According to images broadcast by Russian public television, the displacement took place at night. Vladimir Putin was introduced to the night lighting of the streets of Mariupol and spoke with residents. We pray for you, he assured a resident, saying the city was a little piece of paradise.

The Russian leader also visited a reconstructed local musical theater and followed the presentation of a report on the reconstruction works of this devastated city, according to the Kremlin.

Vladimir Putin visited Mariupol, a port city occupied by the Russian army since May 2022.

This is his first trip to this Ukrainian port city besieged for months by Russian forces before falling in May 2022.

This surprise visit to Mariupol is above all the first trip of the master of the Kremlin to the Donbass, in the occupied zone, since the start of the Russian offensive on February 24, 2022, which earned Moscow a series of severe international sanctions. .

According to the Kremlin, Putin also held a meeting in Rostov-on-Don (southern Russia), not far from the Ukrainian border, with officials of the Russian army, including Chief of Staff Valery Gerasimov.

He had previously traveled to Crimea on Saturday for the ninth anniversary of the annexation of this Ukrainian peninsula by Russia, also under international sanctions. It was his first visit to Crimea since 2021.

Vladimir Putin has been targeted since Friday by an arrest warrant issued by the International Criminal Court (ICC) , who charges him with the war crime of unlawful deportation of Ukrainian children.

The Court, which sits in The Hague, also tried to verify whether the bombardment and siege of Mariupol, in the south-east of Ukraine, could constitute a crime against humanity. She concluded that she lacked elements to reach such a conclusion, not having had access to the Donetsk region, where Mariupol is located.

For its part, the Kremlin has ruled null and void the arrest warrant of the ICC, which Moscow does not recognize as having jurisdiction.

On Saturday in Sevastopol, home port of the Russian Black Sea Fleet in Crimea, Mr. Putin had, among other things, attended the inauguration ceremony of a school of arts for children in the company of the governor local, Mikhail Razvojayev, according to the images broadcast by the public television channel Rossia-1.

This city is located only about 240 km from Kherson, a southern Ukrainian city retaken by the army from Kiev in November, after the withdrawal of Russian forces.

Our president, Vladimir Vladimirovitch Putin, knows how to surprise. In the good sense of the word, M. Razvojayev wrote on Telegram.

But Vladimir Vladimirovich came in person. Himself. Driving. Because on a historic day like today, he is always with Sevastopol and its people, said Mikhail Razvojayev.

Russia annexed Crimea on March 18, 2014, following a referendum not recognized by Kyiv and the international community.

If the Ukrainian President, Volodymyr Zelensky, affirmed in January that he intended to take back Crimea, our land, by arms, Moscow continues to hammer home that Crimea is Russian, refusing to make it Russian. x27;subject to possible peace negotiations.

The international arrest warrant for Vladimir Putin was issued the day Moscow and Beijing unveiled the visit, in From Monday, the Chinese leader, Xi Jinping, in Russia, supposed to open a new era in the relations between two allies.

This visit, scheduled until Wednesday, comes just over a year after the launch of the Russian offensive in Ukraine which led the Kremlin to reorient itself towards China, amid tensions with the West which supports Ukraine .

Last month, China sought to establish itself as a mediator by releasing a document urging Moscow and Kyiv to hold peace talks .

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