Russian President Vladimir Putin has visited Mariupol, a Ukrainian city in the Donetsk region which has been occupied by Moscow’s forces since May of last year.
Putin flew to Mariupol by helicopter and travelled around several districts of the city, making stops and talking to residents, the TASS agency reported on Sunday, citing the Kremlin.
Reports of the Mariupol visit came a day after the Russian leader travelled to Crimea to mark the ninth anniversary of the Black Sea peninsula’s annexation from Ukraine. Russian state TV showed him visiting the Black Sea port city of Sevastopol on Saturday, accompanied by the local Moscow-appointed governor, Mikhail Razvozhayev.
Russia annexed Crimea from Ukraine in 2014 following a referendum that was not recognised by Kyiv and the international community.
Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy has demanded that Russia withdraw from the peninsula as well as the areas it has occupied since last year.
Putin’s visit to Mariupol also comes after the International Criminal Court (ICC) said on Friday it had issued an arrest warrant against him and accused him of the war crime of illegally deporting hundreds of children from Ukraine.
Putin has yet to comment publicly on the warrant. The Kremlin spokesman has called it “null and void” and said Russia finds the very issues raised by the ICC to be “outrageous and unacceptable”.