Published: 2023-03-19 11:54
Last Updated: 2023-03-27 18:43
Russian President Vladimir Putin made a surprise visit to Mariupol, state media reported Sunday.
The trip comes after an arrest warrant was issued for Putin by the International Criminal Court, over Russia's alleged deportation of thousands of Ukrainian children during the conflict.
Russia besieged Mariupol at the start of the Russia-Ukraine war last year, destroying the Azovstal steel works, the last holdout of Ukrainian forces in the city.
According to state news agency TASS Sunday, Putin flew to Mariupol by helicopter Saturday 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.
Putin's stop in Mariupol comes after his surprise visit to Crimea Saturday to mark the ninth anniversary of the peninsula's annexation.
Russian state TV showed him visiting the Black Sea port city of Sevastopol, accompanied by the local Moscow-appointed governor Mikhail Razvozhayev.
Razvozhayev said on the messaging app Telegram that Putin had been expected to take part in the opening of a children's art school by video link.
"But Vladimir Vladimirovich came in person. Himself. Behind the wheel. Because on such a historic day, the president is always with Sevastopol and the people of Sevastopol," he said.