HomeTop StoriesPutin visits occupied city of Mariupol in Ukraine

Putin visits occupied city of Mariupol in Ukraine

Russian President Vladimir Putin visited the occupied port metropolis of Mariupol, his first journey to Ukrainian territory that Moscow illegally annexed in September, in a present of defiance after the Worldwide Felony Courtroom issued a warrant for his arrest on warfare crimes costs.

Putin arrived in Mariupol late Saturday after visiting Crimea, southwest of Mariupol, to mark the ninth anniversary of the Black Sea peninsula’s annexation, Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov mentioned Sunday. He was proven chatting with Mariupol residents and visiting an artwork faculty and a kids’s middle in Sevastopol, Crimea.

Mariupol turned a worldwide image of resistance after outgunned and outmanned Ukrainian forces held out in a steel mill there for practically three months earlier than Moscow finally took control of it in Might. A lot of the town was pounded to rubble by Russian shelling.

Former Nationwide Safety Adviser Lt. Gen. H.R. McMaster on “Face the Nation” referred to as Putin’s go to a “second of readability,” noting the warrant by the ICC. 

Russian President Vladimir Putin visits Mariupol
Russian President Vladimir Putin visits Mariupol, Russian-controlled Ukraine, on this nonetheless picture taken from handout video launched on March 19, 2023. 

Kremlin.ru/Handout by way of REUTERS

“Take a look at simply the brazen cynicism related to him going to Sevastopol, which he illegally annexed in 2014, after which to Mariupol, going there at night time,” McMaster mentioned. “You realize, visiting websites – the few websites – you already know, that hadn’t been rumbled, you already know, by the Russian army as they inflicted homicide on harmless individuals in Mariupol.” 

Putin has not commented on the arrest warrant, which deepened his worldwide isolation regardless of the unlikelihood of him going through trial anytime quickly. The Kremlin, which doesn’t acknowledge the authority of the ICC, has rejected its transfer as “legally null and void.”

The shock journey additionally got here forward of a deliberate go to to Moscow by Chinese language President Xi Jinping this week, anticipated to offer a serious diplomatic enhance to Putin in his confrontation with the West.

McMaster mentioned “you are going to see within the coming days and weeks is increasingly more proof of Chinese language assist” towards Russia.

White Home Nationwide Safety Council spokesman John Kirby informed “Fox Information Sunday” that any name for a cease-fire in Ukraine popping out of the Putin-Xi assembly could be unacceptable to the U.S. as a result of it might solely “ratify Russian’s conquest so far,” and provides Moscow “time to refit, retrain, re-man and attempt to plan for a renewed offensive.”

Putin arrived in Mariupol by helicopter after which drove himself across the metropolis’s “memorial websites,” live performance corridor and shoreline, Russian information experiences mentioned. The state Rossiya 24 channel on Sunday confirmed Putin chatting with locals outdoors what seemed like a newly constructed residential advanced, and being proven round one of many flats.

Following his journey to Mariupol, Putin met with Russian army leaders and troops at a command put up in Rostov-on-Don, a southern Russian metropolis some 180 kilometers (about 112 miles) farther east, and conferred with Gen. Valery Gerasimov, who’s accountable for the Russian army operations in Ukraine, Peskov mentioned.

Peskov mentioned the journey had been unannounced, and that Putin meant to “examine the work of the [command] put up in its strange mode of operation.”

Talking to the state RIA-Novosti company, Deputy Prime Minister Marat Khusnullin made clear that Russia was in Mariupol to remain. He mentioned the federal government hoped to complete the reconstruction of its blasted downtown by the top of the yr.

“Individuals have began to return. After they noticed that reconstruction is beneath manner, individuals began actively returning,” Khusnullin informed RIA.

Mykhailo Podolyak, chief of workers for Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy, heaped scorn on Putin’s journey to Mariupol.

“The felony is all the time drawn to the crime scene,” he mentioned. “Whereas the nations of the civilized world are asserting the arrest of the ‘warfare director’ within the occasion of crossing the border, the organizer of the murders of hundreds of Mariupol households got here to admire the ruins of the town and mass graves.”

When Moscow totally captured the town in Might, an estimated 100,000 individuals remained, out of a prewar inhabitants of 450,000. Many have been trapped with out meals, water, warmth or electrical energy. Relentless bombardment left rows of shattered or hollowed-out buildings.

Mariupol’s plight first got here into worldwide focus with a Russian airstrike on a maternity hospital on March 9, 2022, lower than two weeks after the invasion of Ukraine started. Every week later, about 300 individuals have been reported killed within the bombing of a theater getting used as the town’s largest bomb shelter. Proof obtained by The Related Press urged the real death toll could be closer to 600.

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