Vladimir Putin flew to Mariupol for a surprise visit to Russian-occupied territory in Ukraine, according to the Kremlin press release.
Putin arrived by helicopter and then drove through the city, the Kremlin said, inspecting reconstruction work in several neighborhoods. The Kremlin also said Putin spoke with some local residents but did not say the exact time it happened.
It was Putin’s second trip to the newly annexed territories after visiting Crimea on Saturday to mark the ninth anniversary of Russia’s illegal takeover of the Black Sea peninsula.
The news comes less than two days after the International Criminal Court (ICC) on Friday issued arrest warrants for Putin and Maria Lvova-Belova, an official in its child rights office, over their involvement. alleged in the illegal deportation and transfer of Ukrainian children from occupied areas of Ukraine to Russia.
Mariupol, a port city on the Sea of Azov in Donetsk Oblast, became a symbol of Ukrainian resistance during weeks of Russian attacks last year, which included the shelling of a maternity hospital, humanitarian corridors and the daily shelling of buildings. All this while the city’s defenders resisted the Azovstal steelworks.
The city, once home to more than 430,000 people, has been under direct Russian control since May 2022.