Ukraine war: Vladimir Putin tours Mariupol in first visit to Ukrainian territory occupied since invasion | World News

Russian President Vladimir Putin made his first visit to occupied Ukraine since the beginning of the war, to the city of Mariupol in the southeastern part of the country.

The president made what state media described as a “business trip” to the port city of Donetsk, which was annexed last September after of Russia invasion.

The visit appeared to be a show of defiance after the International Criminal Court issued an arrest warrant for him on war crimes on Friday.

State news agency TASS, citing Kremlin sources, reported that Putin arrived by helicopter and went around several districts of the city, stopping and talking to people.

A video posted on state media shows the president driving around the city and visiting a concert hall believed to be used by Russia to keep prisoners of war in cages in “sham” tests last year.

Mr. Putin also visit Crimea yesterday to mark the 9th anniversary of the annexation of the Black Sea peninsula from Ukraine.

He annexation of regions of Ukraine of Donetsk, Kherson, Luhansk and Zaporizhzhia in September, signed a law incorporating them into Russia after the so-called referendum was rejected by Ukraine and the West as a sham.

Russian President Vladimir Putin, right, and Sevastopol Governor Mikhail Razvozhayev visit the Children's Center for Arts and Aesthetics, part of the Chersonesos Taurica historical and archaeological park in Sevastopol, Crimea, Saturday, May 18. March 2023. Putin visited Crimea to mark the 9th anniversary of the annexation of the Black Sea peninsula from Ukraine.  (Sputnik, Kremlin Press Service Pool Photo via AP)
Putin and Mikhail Razvozhayev, the Russian-appointed governor of Sevastopol, in Crimea

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How the steel mill turned into the last outpost in the brutal battle for Mariupol

Most of the world considers Russia’s annexation illegal, while Ukraine has vowed to fight to regain these regions.

Mariupola port city of strategic importance on the Sea of ​​Azov, the site of some of the fiercest fighting in the early stages of the war.

Ukrainian forces entrenched themselves in the city’s Azovstal steel mill for one last defence, ending with a surrender in May after a three-month siege of the facility by Russia.

A view shows the destroyed Azovstal steel plant during the Russia-Ukraine conflict in Mariupol, Russia-controlled Ukraine, November 16, 2022. REUTERS/Alexander Ermochenko
Azovstal Steel Plant

More than 2,500 buildings were damaged during the siege of Mariupol – almost half of all that exists in the city.

Russia has remodeling the city in its own image since capturing it, including turning the dilapidated steel mill, once one of the largest smelters in Europe, into a “technological and ecological park”.

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Mariupol: Russia’s New Model City

Putin also met the top commander of his military operation in Ukraine, including Chief of the General Staff Valery Gerasimov, according to Russian media.

The meeting is said to have taken place at the Rostov-on-Don command post, in southern Russia, near the border with Ukraine, according to TASS.

Putin flew from Moscow to Sevastopol, Crimea’s largest city, and was greeted by Mikhail Razvozhayev, the Russian-appointed governor, before visiting an art school and children’s center.

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President Putin visits Crimea

Putin’s remarks were not covered by state media, but just Friday he spoke of the importance of holding on to Crimea.

“Clearly, security issues are now a top priority for Crimea and Sevastopol,” he said.

“We will do everything necessary to counter any threat.”

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Mr Putin has not publicly commented on the International Criminal Court’s arrest warrant, but his spokesman called it “null and void” on Friday.

The court said he was responsible for the abduction of hundreds of Ukrainian children since Russia’s all-out invasion of the country began last February.

Russia does not recognize the jurisdiction of the court based in The Hague.

It also does not extradite its citizens to face court justice, meaning Mr Putin will never face trial there.


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