Russian President Vladimir Putin visits occupied port city Mariupolon his first trip to Ukrainian territory illegally annexed by Moscow in September, in defiance after the International Criminal Court issued an arrest warrant for him on war crimes charges.
Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov said on Sunday that Putin arrived in Mariupol late Saturday after visiting the Crimea peninsula southwest of Mariupol to mark the ninth anniversary of the annexation of the Black Sea peninsula. He was shown chatting with residents of Mariupol and visiting art schools and children’s centers in Sevastopol, Crimea.
Mariupol became a symbol of global resistance after being overwhelmed by gunfire and manpower Ukrainian troops held in steel mills there nearly 3 months ago Moscow finally took control of that in May. Much of the city was reduced to rubble by Russian artillery fire.
Former National Security Advisor Lieutenant. General HR McMaster “Face the Nation”‘ called Putin’s visit a ‘clear moment’ and referred to the warrant by the ICC.
“Look at the brazen irony associated with going to Sevastopol, which he illegally annexed in 2014, and then to Mariupol, at night,” McMaster said. “I visited several sites that were not hyped up by the Russian military when they murdered innocent people in Mariupol.”
Putin has not commented on the arrest warrant, which has deepened his international isolation, even though it is unlikely that he will be brought to justice anytime soon. Rejected as invalid.
The surprise visit also comes ahead of this week’s visit to Moscow by Chinese President Xi Jinping, which is expected to give Putin a major diplomatic boost in his confrontation with the West.
“There will be more and more evidence of Chinese support for Russia in the coming days and weeks,” McMaster said.
White House National Security Council spokesman John Kirby told ‘Fox News Sunday’ that calls for a ceasefire in Ukraine, emerging from Putin’s talks with Xi Jinping, “will end Russia’s conquest to this day.” It would be unacceptable to the United States because it would only “approve,” he said, giving Moscow “time to re-equip, re-train, redeploy and try to plan a new attack.”
According to Russian reports, Putin arrived in Mariupol by helicopter and drove around the city’s “monuments”, concert halls and coastline. Russia’s state television, Russia 24, aired on Sunday showing Putin chatting with locals outside a newly built apartment complex, giving a tour of one of the apartments.
After traveling to Mariupol, President Putin met with Russian military leaders and troops at the command post in Rostov-on-Don, a city in southern Russia about 180 kilometers (about 112 miles) to the east, and met with General Valery Gerasimov. Did. Peskov said he was in charge of Russia’s military operations in Ukraine.
Mr Peskov said the visit was unannounced and Mr Putin “intended to inspect the work of the president”. [command] Please post in normal mode of operation. “
In a meeting with the state-run RIA-Novosti agency, Deputy Prime Minister Marat Kusnulin revealed that Russia will stay in Mariupol. He said he hopes the government will finish rebuilding the bombed-out downtown by the end of the year.
“People started coming back. When they saw the rebuilding going on, people started coming back actively,” Kusnurin told the RIA.
Mikhail Podlyak, chief of staff to Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky, disparaged Putin’s visit to Mariupol.
“Criminals are always drawn to crime scenes,” he said. “While the nations of the civilized world announced the arrest of their ‘war overseers’ in the event that they crossed their borders, the organizers of the murder of thousands of families in Mariupol came to admire the city’s ruins and mass graves. I did.”
When Moscow fully occupied the city in May, an estimated 100,000 remained of its pre-war population of 450,000. Many were trapped without access to food, water, heating or electricity. Constant shelling left rows of shattered or hollowed out buildings.
Mariupol’s plight first attracted international attention. Russian airstrikes on maternity hospitals On March 9, 2022, less than two weeks have passed since the invasion of Ukraine began. A week later, about 300 people were reported killed in a bombing of a theater used as the city’s largest air raid shelter. Evidence obtained by the Associated Press The actual death toll could be closer to 600.