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After Crimea, Putin visited Mariupol in southern Ukraine



Putin’s first visit to the city since the Russian bombing last year

Russian President Vladimir Putin visited Mariupol in southern Ukraine, which was captured by Russian forces after heavy fighting in May last year. As reported by the Kremlin, Putin flew into the city by helicopter and then toured it by car and talked to people.

As they also announced, he got acquainted with the progress of the reconstruction of the city, which was completely destroyed last year.

Mariupol finally fell under Russian control in May of last year, marking Russia’s first major victory in Ukraine after failing to take Kiev and shifting its focus to the neighboring country’s southeast.

Russian media reports that Putin visited a family at home in the Nevsky district. The Russian army built a new residential neighborhood, and the first residents moved in last September.

Deputy Prime Minister of Russia Marat Kusnulin, who accompanied Putin, said that residents are actively returning to Mariupol.

The “wonderful center” of Mariupol

The city had half a million inhabitants before the war. Kusnulin said it was downtown “severely damaged”, but that they want to finish its renovation by the end of the year, at least the facade. “The center is wonderful,” he added.

According to Russian media, Putin also visited the Philharmonic, which was renovated in just three months.

Ukrainian authorities have not yet responded to Putin’s visit.

Putin’s first visit to Donbas after the start of the aggression

It is the first time a Russian president has visited the city, which was besieged and bombarded by Russian forces for weeks before its takeover last year, and came a day after the International Criminal Court (ICC) issued a warrant for his arrest.

It was also the first trip of the Russian president to the Donbas region (the Donetsk Basin, which includes the Ukrainian regions of Donetsk and Luhansk) after the start of Russian aggression against Ukraine on February 24 last year. So far, Putin has avoided traveling near war zones.

On Saturday, accompanied by the highest representatives of the army, Putin also visited the Russian city of Rostov and the Crimean peninsula. Exactly on Saturday, nine years have passed since the Russian annexation of the Ukrainian peninsula, and many ceremonies were held there to mark the anniversary.

On Friday, the ICC issued an arrest warrant for Putin on suspicion of being responsible for the illegal deportation of Ukrainian children from the occupied territories. Because of similar accusations, the court also issued a warrant for the Russian president’s commissioner for children’s rights Maria Lvova-Belova.

The ICC cannot currently take action against the Russian leadership, including President Putin, as neither Russia nor Ukraine are signatories to the Rome Statute, which is the court’s legal basis.

On Monday, the Chinese president is expected in Moscow Xi Jinping, who will also meet with Putin as part of the three-day visit. This will be Shi’s first visit to Russia since the start of the war in Ukraine, and it will come just a week after the Chinese president officially won a third term as head of the country.

Source: Rtvslo

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