Two days after the International Court of Justice(ICC) issued an arrest warrant on Russian President Vladimir Putin in connection with war crimes in Ukraine, Putin made a surprise visit to the Ukraine Port of Mariupol now occupied by the Russians.
This is his first trip to the Russian occupied territories of Ukraine since the war began between the two nations. The Russian State Media reported the visit of Putin to the port city.
Putin‘s visit to Mariupol comes after his surprise visit to Crimea on March 18 to mark the ninth anniversary of the peninsula’s annexation.
The state news agency said that President Putin flew to Mariupol by helicopter on March 18 and took a tour of the city, at times driving a car. He visited several sites and spoke with residents, and was presented with a report on the reconstruction work of the city.
Russian state TV also showed him visiting the Black Sea port city of Sevastopol. Local Moscow-appointed governor Mikhail Razvozhayev accompanied the president.
Though Putin has not made a statement on the ICC warrant, several think that the visit is an act of defiance. Observers feel that it was an open outcry against the International Court, daring the verdict to be imposed on him.
The State Media said that the president visited Nevsky district of Mariupol, where a new residential neighbourhood was built by Russian military. He even visited a family in their home, the media reported.
Apart from this, the reports said that Putin examined the coastline of Mariupol in the area of the yacht club, the theatre building and several memorable places of the city.
Putin also met with the top commander of his military operation in Ukraine, including Chief of the General Staff Valery Gerasimov who is in charge of Moscow’s war in Ukraine
THE FALL OF MARIUPOL
The port of Mariupol fell to Russia in May. The war for Mariupol was considered one of the longest and bloodiest battles. The capture of Maiupol was Russia’s first major victory after it failed to seize Kyiv.
Russia annexed Crimea in 2014 following a referendum that was not recognised by Kyiv and the international community.