Russian President Vladimir Putin visited the Ukrainian city of Mariupol in the Donetsk region, which has been occupied by Russian forces since May last year.
On Sunday, the TASS news agency reported, citing the Kremlin, that Putin flew to Mariupol by helicopter and traveled around several districts of the city, stopping and talking to residents.
Reports of Mariupol’s visit came a day after the Russian leader traveled to Crimea to celebrate the ninth anniversary of the annexation of the Black Sea peninsula from Ukraine. Russian state television showed him visiting the Black Sea port city of Sevastopol on Saturday, accompanied by Moscow-appointed local governor Mikhail Razvogayev.
Russia annexed Crimea from Ukraine in 2014 after a referendum, which was not recognized by Kiev and the international community.
Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky called on Russia to withdraw from the peninsula as well as the areas it occupied since last year.
Putin’s visit to Mariupol also comes after the International Criminal Court said on Friday it had issued an arrest warrant for him, charging him with the war crime of illegally deporting hundreds of children from Ukraine.
Putin has not yet publicly commented on the memo. A Kremlin spokesman called them “null and void” and said Russia considered the very cases raised by the ICC to be “outrageous and unacceptable”.
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