He President of Russia Vladimir Putin, made a surprise trip this Sunday, March 19, to the city of Mariupol, a city devastated by its armies in the first months of the war, in what constituted its first visit to the captured territory of Ukraine since the beginning of the invasion. The trip triggered an angry reaction from Ukraine, with a presidential aide criticizing his “cynicism” and “lack of remorse”.
“The criminal always returns to the scene of the crime… the murderer of thousands of Mariupol families came to admire the ruins of the city and (their) graves. Cynicism and lack of remorse”Ukrainian presidential adviser Mykhaylo Podolyak wrote on Twitter.
The Ukrainian Defense Ministry said on Twitter that Putin visited the city at night “as befits a thief“First, it is safer,” the ministry wrote on Twitter. “In addition, the darkness allows you to highlight what you want to show, and keeps the city completely destroyed by your army and its few surviving inhabitants away from prying eyes”.
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He adviser to the Ukrainian Interior Minister Anton Gerashchenkojoined the criticism and said that the visit seemed a “pathetic response” to the actions of the International Criminal Court (ICC), which on Friday issued an arrest warrant for Putin for war crimes in Ukraineopening the possibility that the Russian president will one day be in the dock in The Hague.
“War criminal Putin visited Crimea and Mariupol for the first time since the full-scale invasion began,” Gerashchenko said. “This visit seems rushed and unplanned. It seems like a pathetic response to the decision of the International Criminal Court. Putin seems lost, insecure and weakThe Ukrainian authorities in Mariupol who had to go into exile also condemned the visit, calling Putin an “international criminal.”
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Just hours after Putin visited Crimea to mark the ninth anniversary of the peninsula’s annexation, a video released by the Kremlin showed him landing by helicopter in Mariupol, the port city on the Azov Sea that Moscow captured after a long siege in the first months of the invasion.
It was Putin’s first trip to the eastern Donbas region since he launched the invasion in February 2022, coming almost a year after Moscow announced the capture of Mariupol after a campaign that saw the destruction of the Azovstal steelworksthe last stronghold of Ukrainian forces in the strategic port city.
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The Russian leader took a tour of the city and was seen driving a car. Putin drove through the streets of Mariupol as his deputy prime minister, Marat Khusnullin, pointed out Russian repair work on footage from the Defense Ministry-owned Zvezda channel.
The Kremlin said it visited a reconstructed musical theater and followed by the presentation of a report on the reconstruction work. Furthermore, he blamed “Ukrainian militants” for the violence that forced 350,000 people to flee the city forever.
According to the Kremlin video, Vladimir Putin spoke to several Mariupol residents, but it could not be confirmed who the people filmed are and whether they are genuine Ukrainian citizens.
Mariupol was devastated after Moscow relentlessly bombed it and subjected it to a brutal siege, leaving it without vital infrastructure, water, electricity and heating. According to kyiv, Mariupol was 90% destroyed and at least 20,000 people died. The objective of the capture of this city was to allow Russia to ensure the union between its forces from Crimea – the Ukrainian peninsula annexed by Moscow in 2014 – and the secessionist areas of Donbas.
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Mariupol’s plight first came to light after a Russian airstrike on a maternity hospital on March 9 last year, less than two weeks after Russian troops entered Ukraine. Days later, some 300 people were reported killed in the bombing of a theater that served as the city’s largest bomb shelter, although the agency Associated Press suggested that the actual death toll could be closer to 600.
On April 21, the Kremlin announced the conquest of Mariupol.. A group of about 2,000 Ukrainian fighters resisted for 83 days entrenched in the labyrinthine underground of the sprawling Azovstal steel plant, east of Mariupol, before surrendering in mid-May. His stubborn defense tied down Russian forces and came to symbolize Ukrainian tenacity in the face of Moscow aggression.
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