Putin visits Russian-occupied Mariupol in Ukraine

Russian President Vladimir Putin has visited Mariupol, a Ukrainian city in the Donetsk region that has been held by Moscow’s forces since May last year.

Putin flew by helicopter to Mariupol and toured several districts of the city, stopping and talking to residents, Tass agency reported on Sunday, citing the Kremlin.

The report of the Mariupol visit comes a day after the Russian leader traveled 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 local Moscow-appointed governor Mikhail Razvozayev.

Russia annexed Crimea from Ukraine in 2014 following a referendum that was not recognized by Kiev and the international community.

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky has demanded that Russia withdraw from the peninsula as well as from areas it has occupied since last year.

Putin’s visit to Mariupol came after the International Criminal Court (ICC) said on Friday that it had issued an arrest warrant against him and accused him of war crimes of illegally deporting hundreds of children from Ukraine.

Putin has yet to comment publicly on the warrant. A Kremlin spokesman called it “invalid and void” and said Russia considers the issues raised by the ICC to be “abusive and unacceptable”.

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