Russian President Vladimir Putin has paid a surprise visit to the shell-ravaged Ukrainian city of Mariupol on his first trip to the occupied zone since the start of the Russian offensive in Ukraine.
Putin arrived by helicopter in Mariupol, in the Donbassand took a tour of the city driving a vehicle himself, the Kremlin reported this Sunday.
According to the images broadcast by Russian state television, the trip took place at night.
In the pictures you can see the Russian president in the streets talking with residents.
“We pray for you,” says a resident, who says that the city is “a little paradise.”
Putin also visited the newly rebuilt local philharmonic and received a report on the reconstruction work in Mariupol.detailed the Kremlin press service, as reproduced by the AFP news agency.
It is his first visit to this port city in southeastern Ukraine, devastated after months of siege by Russian forces, who captured it in May 2022.
According to the Kremlin, the Russian president also held a meeting in Rostov-on-Don (southern Russia), near the Ukrainian border, with Russian Army officers, including the chief of the General Staff, Valery Gerasimov.
The Russian president arrived in Mariupol after visiting Crimea on Saturday, on the anniversary of Moscow’s annexation of that peninsula in 2014.
The Russian president made these trips the day after the International Criminal Court (ICC), based in The Hague, requested his capture for the deportation of children in areas of Ukraine occupied by Russia.
kyiv claims that more than 16,000 Ukrainian children have been deported to Russia since the start of the conflict.