Vladimir Putin flew to Mariupol for a surprise visit to Russiaan-occupied territory in Ukraine, according to Kremlin’s press release.
Putin arrived by helicopter, and then drove through the city in a car, the Kremlin said, inspecting reconstruction works in several neighborhoods. The Kremlin also said that Putin spoke with some local residents but did not indicate the exact time when it happened.
It was Putin’s second trip to newly annexed territories after he visited Crimea on Saturday to mark the ninth anniversary of Russia’s illegal takeover of the Black Sea peninsula.
The news comes less than two days after the International Criminal Court (ICC) issued arrest warrants on Friday for Putin and Maria Lvova-Belova, an official in his office responsible for children’s rights, because of their alleged involvement in the unlawful deportation and transfer of Ukrainian children from occupied areas of Ukraine to Russia.
Mariupol, a port city on the Sea of Azov in Donetsk Oblast, became a symbol of Ukrainian resistance during weeks of Russian attacks last year, which included the bombing of a maternity hospital, humanitarian corridors, and the daily shelling of apartment buildings. All of that while the city’s defenders held out at the Azovstal steel plant.
The city, formerly home to more than 430,000 people, is direct Russian control since May 2022.