Russian President Vladimir Putin made a shock journey to Mariupol, the Kremlin mentioned Sunday, his first go to to territory captured from Ukraine for the reason that begin of Moscow’s invasion.
Just hours after Putin visited Crimea to mark the ninth anniversary of the peninsula’s annexation, video distributed by the Kremlin confirmed him touchdown by helicopter in Mariupol, the port metropolis that Moscow captured after a protracted siege final spring.
The go to triggered an offended response from Ukraine, with a presidential aide blasting its “cynicism” and “lack of regret”.
The Russian chief took a tour of town and was seen driving a automotive. The Kremlin mentioned he visited a rebuilt musical theatre and adopted the presentation of a report on reconstruction work.
“We’re praying for you,” a resident informed Putin, referring to town as “slightly piece of paradise”, in keeping with photos broadcast by Russian state TV, exhibiting the go to occurred at evening.
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Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov informed reporters the go to was “spontaneous”, including that Putin’s actions across the metropolis and his assembly with locals weren’t deliberate.
He added that the go to occurred “very late” on Saturday and within the early hours of Sunday.
It was Putin’s first journey to the japanese Donbas area since he launched the invasion in February 2022, and comes virtually a yr after Moscow introduced the seize of Mariupol after a marketing campaign that noticed the destruction of the Azovstal metal works, the final holdout of Ukrainian forces within the strategic port metropolis.
– ‘Lack of regret’ –
Mariupol was left devastated after Moscow relentlessly bombarded town on the shores of the Sea of Azov and subjected it to a brutal siege.
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“The prison all the time returns to the crime scene… the assassin of 1000’s of Mariupol households got here to admire the ruins of town and (its) graves. Cynicism and lack of regret,” Ukrainian presidential aide Mykhaylo Podolyak mentioned on Twitter.
Ukraine’s defence ministry mentioned on Twitter Putin visited town at evening “as befits a thief”.
“He watched the ‘rebuilding of town’… at evening. Most likely so as to not see town, killed by his ‘liberation’, within the gentle of day,” the exiled Mariupol metropolis council mentioned on its Telegram account.
The go to comes forward of a visit to Moscow this week by Chinese language President Xi Jinping, extensively seen as a diplomatic coup for Putin.
Beijing, a strategic ally of Moscow, has touted the journey as a “go to for peace” because it seeks to play mediator within the Ukraine battle.
China has sought to place itself as a impartial get together, urging Moscow and Kyiv to open negotiations.
However Western leaders have repeatedly criticised Beijing for failing to sentence Russia’s offensive, accusing it of offering Moscow with diplomatic cowl for its marketing campaign.
Putin additionally met military chiefs together with the chief of the final employees, Valery Gerasimov, within the southern Russian metropolis of Rostov-on-Don close to the border with Ukraine, the Kremlin mentioned.
He additionally made an unannounced go to to Crimea on Saturday, with Russian state TV exhibiting him visiting the Black Sea port metropolis of Sevastopol accompanied by the native Moscow-appointed governor Mikhail Razvozhayev.
– ‘Void’ ICC warrant –
Russia annexed Crimea in 2014 following a referendum that was not recognised by Kyiv and the worldwide group.
The weekend visits got here after the Worldwide Felony Court docket, primarily based in The Hague, issued an arrest warrant for Putin over Russia’s alleged deportation of 1000’s of Ukrainian kids in the course of the battle.
Kyiv says greater than 16,000 Ukrainian kids have been deported to Russia for the reason that begin of the battle, a lot of them positioned in establishments and foster houses.
ICC prosecutor Karim Khan informed AFP that Putin was now accountable for arrest if he set foot in any of the courtroom’s greater than 120 member states.
The 70-year-old Russian chief has not commented publicly on the warrant however the Kremlin dismissed its validity as “void” since Russia didn’t recognise the ICC’s jurisdiction.
In Ankara, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan mentioned Saturday Moscow and Kyiv had agreed to increase a deal that permits Ukraine, a serious grain exporter, to renew exports after its Black Sea ports have been blocked by Russian warships.
Nonetheless, there may be nonetheless a disagreement over the phrases, with Ukraine saying the deal had been prolonged for 120 days and Russia saying it was extended by 60 days.
Combating on the bottom is concentrated within the japanese Donetsk area of Ukraine, significantly town of Bakhmut.
Russia final autumn introduced the annexation of Donetsk together with three different Ukrainian territories — Lugansk, Kherson and Zaporizhzhia — regardless of not fulling controlling them.
Russian shelling on Sunday killed three individuals and injured two others within the village of Kamianske within the southern Zaporizhzhia area, the regional administration mentioned.