In his first visit to the occupied eastern Ukraine, Defiant Putin visits Mariupol

Days after the International Criminal Court issued a warrant for his arrest, Russian President Vladimir Putin made a defiant visit to the city of Mariupol in his first trip to Ukrainian territory that Moscow illegally annexed in September.

The International Criminal Court issued him a warrant for his arrest. However, Russian President Vladimir Putin paid a defiant trip to the City of Mariupol on his first visit to Ukraine.

Putin flew by helicopter into the port-city and “traveled through several districts of the capital,” the Kremlin stated in a Sunday statement. He also said that he met many residents and entered one family’s house after being invited in.

Marat Khusnullin, Russia’s Deputy Prime minister, stated in a separate Telegram post that Putin had “personally inspected one residential area, the building of Philharmonic Society, and assessed the roads by driving around the city.”

Russian President Vladimir Putin was escorted by his Deputy Prime Minister Marat Khusnullin during his visit to Mariupol in Russian-controlled Donetsk region.

Pool Photo via AP / Pool Photo via AP

After a long struggle, Ukraine ceded Mariupol in May to Russia. This was after months of fighting that saw some brutal Russian strikes, including an attack upon a theater that was serving as the city’s largest bomb shelter and a maternity ward. Many areas of the strategically important city are still in ruin after being bombarded repeatedly.

Moscow won its first major victory since February’s invasion, despite failing to seize Kyiv, Ukraine’s capital.

It had already become a symbol of resistance around the world after a small group of outgunned Ukrainian soldiers held out for 83 consecutive days in the sprawling Azovstal Steelworks to the east of Kiev, in one the bloodiest and longest battles of the war. Their steadfast defense held back the Russian forces, and ended their eastern offensive.

Out of a prewar population of 450,000, an estimated 100,000 people remained in this city after its capture.

Khusnullin stated Sunday that he had reported back to Putin about “the construction and improvement of territories, roads construction, and economic development.”

He also spoke out with RIA Novosti, the state-owned news agency. He said that people began to return to the city when they saw the restoration was taking place.

NBC News could not verify this claim.

This was Putin’s second unexpected trip to the Russian-occupied territories of Ukraine. To mark the ninth anniversary, Putin also visited the Crimea nearby to commemorate the annexation of Ukraine.

Although President Volodymyr Zilenskyy of Ukraine has made several trips to the battlefields to improve soldier morale, Putin has mostly stayed inside the Kremlin during the year-long conflict. His visit to Mariupol was his closest trip to the frontlines since the invasion.

Russia annexed Crimea in Ukraine in 2014. This was a move most of the world condemned as illegal. After the September referendums, which Kyiv, the West, and others called a sham, Moscow claimed four areas in Ukraine’s east and south as Russian territory, including Donetsk where Mariupol is located.

According to the Kremlin, he also met with the head of his military operation in Ukraine and Chief of General Staff Valery Gerasimov, who is responsible for the war at Rostov-on-Don in southern Russia.

Although Putin has been mostly exempted from complaints, some pro-war agitators in Moscow see the non-appearance by senior ministers to battlegrounds as proof they are weak enough against Ukraine.

The International Criminal Court issued an arrest warrant for Russian leader Vladimir Putin. It accused him of the “war crime” that he oversaw the unlawful kidnapping and deportation of children to Russia.

It stated that there was reasonable ground to believe that Putin had individual liability for the crimes and that he had failed in his duty to properly supervise subordinates.

Moscow consistently denied claims of war crimes. referred to them as a “fantasy” that was meant to discredit Russia. Dmitry Peskov Putin’s press secretary, rejected the court’s findings. “We don’t recognize this court and we don’t recognize its jurisdiction.” “This is how we treat it,” he stated in a Telegram posting Friday.

February 15, 2023 05:25

Keir Giles, a Chatham House senior consultant fellow on Russia and Eurasia, said that Russia cannot present it as traveling ‘abroad,’ which is contrary to the ICC.

He said that Crimea and Mariupol were in Ukraine, only temporarily occupied by Russian troops. However, admitting that fact would be against Moscow’s entire narrative that they should treat them as Russian citizens.

He said, “Agreeing that a day-trip from Mariupol is also a visit to another country would also be an admission by Russia that it has illegally occupied its neighbor.”

Yevgeny Privgozhin is a billionaire oligarch and runs the private army, the Wagner Group. He said Saturday that he intends to recruit 30,000 more fighters by the middle of May.

We have days when we are recruiting up to 1200 people per day. Prighozin stated in a statement to Russian social media VK that the average number is between 500 and 800 [people] and that there is currently a spike of growth.

The Wagner group previously recruited prisoners from Russian prisons . However, it claimed that this had ended in January. The Russian penal service released November figures that showed that the country’s prison population fell by more than 20,000 between August-November, which is the largest decline in a decade.

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