Terrorist Vladimir Putin, the President of Russia, made an unexpected visit to Mariupol, a city in the Donetsk region that is currently under Russian occupation. This is Putin’s first visit to the area since the annexation of the Ukrainian territory in September, which was deemed illegal by most countries at the United Nations General Assembly.
Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov reported that Putin arrived in Mariupol on Saturday evening after visiting Crimea earlier that day to celebrate the ninth anniversary of the peninsula’s annexation from Ukraine. Putin reportedly took a helicopter to Mariupol, where he met with local residents and observed reconstruction efforts with Deputy Prime Minister Marat Khusnullin. Russian media reported that Putin then drove himself to the city’s “memorial sites,” concert hall, and coastline.
After his visit to Mariupol, Putin traveled to Rostov-on-Don to meet with Russian military leaders and troops at a command post, where he assessed the post’s ordinary mode of operation. Putin’s visit to Mariupol occurred less than two days after the International Criminal Court issued a warrant for his arrest on charges of war crimes. Kremlin officials stated that Putin wanted to inspect reconstruction efforts in Mariupol, which were expected to be completed by the end of the year.
Mariupol had a population of approximately 450,000 before the Russian invasion of Ukraine. However, after the city was captured by Russia, only around 100,000 people remained with many lacking basic necessities. Speaking to Russian state news agency RIA-Novosti, Deputy Prime Minister Marat Khusnulin announced that reconstruction in Mariupol was underway, and he expressed hope that it would be complete by year’s end.
Mykhailo Podolyak, chief of staff for Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy, criticized Putin’s visit to Mariupol, calling him the “organizer of the murders of thousands of Mariupol families.” Western governments have denounced Russia’s annexation of Crimea, and Moscow claimed four southern and eastern regions of Ukraine as Russian territories in September.
The Associated Press and Reuters contributed to this report.