Time.news – The Russian president, Vladimir Putin made a “business trip” to Mariupol, his first visit to Donbass since the beginning of the invasion of Ukraine. The day before the ‘tsar’ had visited Crimea, a surprise visit on the ninth anniversary of the annexation and in the aftermath of the international arrest warrant issued by the Hague Criminal Court.
Mariupol, the port city on the Sea of Azov, under Russian control since May 2022, was for weeks the symbol of Ukrainian resistance and is the city where the Russians carried out the most heinous attacks, the one on a maternity ward last March and then the bombing of a theater where hundreds of civilians had found refuge.
According to the Kremlin press office, the president arrived in the city by helicopter and then toured the neighborhoods in a car, a car he drove himself, accompanied by Deputy Prime Minister Marat Khusnulin, who briefed him on the progress of reconstruction and restoration work. The two – the Kremlin’s press service announced in great detail – discussed the construction of new residential microdistricts, new social and educational facilities, infrastructure for housing and communal services and medical institutions. The head of state also visited the coast of the city “in the area of the yacht club and the theater building, memorable places in the city”.
Shortly thereafter, the Russian presidency informed that Putin had met in Rostov-on-Don, near the Ukrainian border, with the commander of the military campaign: “The head of state has heard reports from the chief of staff of the Russian armed forces, Valeri Gherasimov, and other military leaders”.
On Saturday, just after the decision of the International Criminal Court, Putin had flown to Crimea where he had visited an art school and a children’s education center: locations probably carefully chosen in response to the arrest warrant from the Hague court which accused him of being responsible for the deportation of thousands of Ukrainian children to Russian territories.
As a gesture of defiance, Putin hopped on a plane and, having traveled the 1,821 kilometers from Moscow, arrived in Sevastopol, the largest city in the region, where he took the wheel of the car that transported him around the city. Along with the art school and children’s center, Putin also visited an archaeological site at the ruins of the ancient Greek city of Chersonesos, on the outskirts of the port of Sevastopol, the main base of the Russian fleet on the Black Sea.
Russian media celebrate Putin in Mariupol
The Russian media give great prominence to the visit made by the president to Mariupol, the martyred Ukrainian city conquered by Moscow’s troops. The Ria Novosti agency also released footage of the president’s meeting with residents, a group that received new apartments.
In the footage, Putin is seen talking to people and then, at someone’s invitation, enters a house. “It’s a little piece of heaven,” says one of the women, “we didn’t even think we’d get it this year.” “We will expand”, promises the head of the Kremlin, who arrived in Mariupol by helicopter and then, behind the wheel of a car, crossed the city’s neighborhoods accompanied by Deputy Prime Minister Marat Khusnullin.