Russian President Putin visits occupied metropolis of Mariupol


KYIV, Ukraine — Russian President Vladimir Putin has visited the occupied port metropolis of Mariupol, Russian state information businesses reported on Sunday morning, in his first journey to the Ukrainian territory that Moscow illegally annexed in September.

Mariupol turned a worldwide image of defiance after outgunned and outmanned Ukrainian forces held out in a metal mill there for practically three months earlier than Moscow lastly took management of it in May.

Earlier, on Saturday, Putin traveled to Crimea, a brief distance southwest of Mariupol, to mark the ninth anniversary of the Black Sea peninsula’s annexation from Ukraine.

The visits got here days after the International Criminal Court issued an arrest warrant for the Russian chief accusing him of struggle crimes.

Putin arrived in Mariupol by helicopter after which drove himself across the metropolis’s “memorial sites,” live performance corridor and shoreline, the Russian experiences mentioned, with out specifying precisely when the go to occurred. They mentioned Putin additionally met with native residents within the metropolis’s Nevskyi district.

Speaking to the state RIA company Sunday, Russian Deputy Prime Minister Marat Khusnulin made clear that Russia was in Mariupol to remain. He mentioned the federal government hoped to complete the reconstruction of its blasted downtown by the top of the yr.

“People have started to return. When they saw that reconstruction is under way, people started actively returning,” Khusnulin informed RIA.

When Moscow absolutely captured the town in May, an estimated 100,000 folks remained out of a prewar inhabitants of 450,000. Many had been trapped with out meals, water, warmth or electrical energy. Relentless bombardment left rows upon rows of shattered or hollowed-out buildings.

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Mariupol’s plight first got here into focus with a Russian airstrike on a maternity hospital on March 9 final yr, lower than two weeks after Russian troops moved into Ukraine. Per week later, about 300 folks had been reported killed within the bombing of a theater that was serving as the town’s largest bomb shelter. Evidence obtained by the AP final spring urged that the true demise toll may very well be nearer to 600.

A small group of Ukrainian fighters held out for 83 days within the sprawling Azovstal metal works in jap Mariupol earlier than surrendering, their dogged protection tying down Russian forces and coming to represent Ukrainian tenacity within the face of Moscow’s aggression.

Russia annexed Crimea from Ukraine in 2014, a transfer that a lot of the world denounced as unlawful, and moved on final September to formally declare 4 areas in Ukraine’s south and east as Russian territory, following referendums that Kyiv and the West described as a sham.

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