Putin visits Russian-occupied Mariupol in Ukraine for first time as ICC issues arrest warrant
(MENAFN) Russian President Vladimir Putin visited the war-torn port city of Mariupol in Ukraine's Donbas region over the weekend, marking his first trip to the Russian-occupied territories of the region since the conflict began. The visit followed Putin's unannounced trip to Crimea on Saturday to mark the ninth anniversary of Russia's annexation of the peninsula from Ukraine. This visit comes just two days after the International Criminal Court (ICC) issued an arrest warrant for Putin, accusing him of the war crime of illegally deporting hundreds of children from Ukraine. Putin has yet to comment on the ICC warrant, but his trips into Ukrainian territory, claimed by Russia, were viewed by some observers as an act of defiance.
Mariupol fell to Russia in May 2014, after one of the war's longest and bloodiest battles, marking Russia's first significant victory in southeastern Ukraine, after its failed attempt to seize Kyiv. The Organization for Security and Cooperation and Europe (OSCE) accused Russia of committing a war crime by bombing a maternity hospital in Mariupol early in the conflict.
Russian news agencies reported that Putin flew by helicopter to Mariupol for "a working trip." He traveled around several districts of the city, making stops and talking to residents. It is the closest Putin has been to the front lines since the year-long war began.
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