Russian President Vladimir Putin.
Sputnik | Reuters
A day after being accused of war crimes by the International Criminal Court, President Vladimir Putin made a surprise visit to the Russian-occupied Ukrainian city of Mariupol, scene of a few of the worst devastation of his year-old invasion.
State television showed prolonged footage of Putin being shown around town on Saturday night, meeting rehoused residents and being briefed on reconstruction efforts by Deputy Prime Minister Marat Khusnullin.
The port city of Mariupol became known all over the world as a byword for death and destruction as much of it was reduced to ruins in the primary months of the war, eventually falling to Russian forces in May.
A whole bunch were killed within the bombing of a theatre where families with children were sheltering. The Organization for Security and Cooperation and Europe (OSCE) said Russia’s early bombing of a maternity hospital there was a war crime. Moscow denied that and has said because it invaded on Feb. 24 last yr that it doesn’t goal civilians.
Putin’s visit had the air of a gesture of defiance after the International Criminal Court issued a warrant for his arrest on Friday, accusing him of the war crime of deporting a whole bunch of kids from Ukraine.
He has not publicly commented on the move, but his spokesman said it was legally “null and void” and that Russia found the very questions raised by the ICC to be “outrageous and unacceptable”.
The visit to Mariupol was the primary that Putin has made to the Russian-occupied parts of Ukraine’s Donbas region because the war began, and the closest he has come to the front lines.
While Ukraine’s President Volodymyr Zelenskiy has made quite a few trips to the battlefield to spice up the morale of his troops and talk strategy, Putin has largely remained contained in the Kremlin while running what Russia calls its “special military operation” in Ukraine.
Kyiv and its allies say the invasion is an imperialistic land grab that has killed 1000’s and displaced thousands and thousands of individuals in Ukraine.
‘Piece of heaven’
Putin’s trip to Mariupol took place in darkness. State TV showed him on the wheel of a automotive, driving through town in the corporate of his deputy prime minister, Khusnullin, and being briefed intimately on the rebuilding of housing, bridges, hospitals, transport routes and a concert hall.
State media said he visited a latest residential neighbourhood that had been built by Russian military with the primary people moving in last September.
“Do you reside here? Do you prefer it?” Putin was shown asking residents.
“Very much. It’s a bit of piece of heaven that now we have here now,” a lady replied, clasping her hands and thanking Putin for “the victory”.
Residents have been “actively” returning, Khusnullin told Putin. Mariupol had a population of half 1,000,000 people before the war and was home to the Azovstal steel plant, one among Europe’s largest, where Ukrainian fighters held out for weeks in underground tunnels and bunkers before being forced to give up.
“The downtown has been badly damaged,” Khusnullin said. “We wish to complete (reconstruction) of the centre by the top of the yr, no less than the facade part. The centre may be very beautiful.”
There was no immediate response to the visit from the Ukrainian government.
Mariupol is within the Donetsk region, one among 4 largely Russian-occupied regions of Ukraine that Putin moved in September to annex in an motion rejected as illegal by most countries on the United Nations General Assembly.
Putin travelled there by helicopter after a visit to Crimea on the ninth anniversary of its annexation by Russia from Ukraine.
From Mariupol, he went to Rostov in southern Russia, where state TV on Sunday showed him meeting Chief of the General Staff Valery Gerasimov, commander of Russia’s war effort in Ukraine.
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