Vladimir Putin makes surprise trip to Mariupol, his first visit to occupied Donbas in Ukraine
The ICC issued an arrest warrant on Friday against Putin, accusing him of the war crime of illegally deporting hundreds of children from Ukraine, a highly symbolic move that isolates the Russian leader further.
While Ukraine’s President Volodymyr Zelenskyy has made a number of trips to the battlefield to boost the morale of his troops and talk strategy, Putin has largely remained inside the Kremlin while running what Russia calls its “special military operation” in Ukraine.
Kyiv and its allies say the invasion, now in its 13th month, is an imperialistic land grab that has killed thousands and displaced millions of people in Ukraine.
In the Nevsky district of Mariupol, a new residential neighbourhood built by the Russian military, Putin visited a family in their home, Russian media reported.
“The head of state also examined the coastline of Mariupol in the area of the yacht club, the theatre building, memorable places of the city,” theInterfax agency cited the Kremlin’s press service.
Mariupol is in the Donetsk region, one of the four regions Putin moved in September to annex. Kyiv and its Western allies condemned the move as illegal. Donetsk, together with the Luhansk region, comprise most of the Donbas industrialised part of Ukraine that has seen the biggest battle in Europe for generations.
Russian media reported on Sunday that Putin also met with the top commander of his military operation in Ukraine, including Chief of the General Staff Valery Gerasimov who is in charge of Moscow’s war in Ukraine.