Putin’s tours devastated Mariupol by helicopter amid Crimea ‘celebration’ weekend
Vladimir Putin traveled to the devastated Ukrainian city of Mariupol, his first visit to a conquered area since the start of the Russian offensive in Ukraine, after the issuance of an international arrest warrant against the Russian president.
Putin flew to Mariupol by helicopter and drove around the city, the Kremlin press service said on Sunday, quoted by Russian news agencies.
He spoke to locals, visited places of interest and was presented with a report on reconstruction work in the bombed city, the source said.
It is his first trip to the Ukrainian port city, which was besieged for months by Russian forces before falling in May 2022.
The surprise visit to Mariupol is also considered Putin’s first trip to Ukraine’s eastern Donbass region since the launch of the full-scale Russian invasion on February 24, 2022.
According to the Kremlin, before heading to Mariupol, Putin also held a meeting in Rostov, Russia, with Russian military officials, including Chief of Staff Valery Gerasimov.
On Saturday, he traveled to the port city of Sevastopol in Russian-occupied Crimea, as part of a weekend of “celebrations” marking the illegal Russian annexation of Crimea in 2014.
Events marked the event in St. Petersburg, as well as in Crimea itself, where the far-right outlaw biker gang Night Wolves, closely associated with Vladimir Putin for several years, held a rally.
On Friday, the International Criminal Court issued an arrest warrant for Putin on war crimes charges over his alleged involvement in child abductions in Ukraine.
The court said in a statement that the Russian president is “allegedly responsible for the war crime of illegal deportation of population (of children) and illegal transfer of population (of children) from the occupied areas of Ukraine to the Russian Federation. Russia”.
A Kremlin spokesperson called the arrest warrant “outrageous and unacceptable” and called the ICC’s decisions “legally void”.
The ICC said its pre-trial chamber concluded that there were “reasonable grounds to believe that each suspect bears responsibility for the war crime of unlawful deportation of population and that of unlawful transfer of population from occupied areas of Ukraine. to the Russian Federation, to the detriment of Ukrainian children.
More than 16,000 Ukrainian children have been deported to Russia since the invasion began, according to kyiv, and many have been placed in institutions and foster homes.