Russia’s Putin makes shock journey to occupied Mariupol


KYIV, Ukraine — Russian President Vladimir Putin visited the occupied port metropolis of Mariupol, his first journey to Ukrainian territory that Moscow illegally annexed in September and a present of defiance after the Worldwide Felony Court docket issued a warrant for his arrest on struggle crimes costs.

Putin arrived in Mariupol late Saturday after visiting Crimea, southwest of Mariupol, to mark the ninth anniversary of the Black Sea peninsula’s annexation from Ukraine, Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov mentioned Sunday. He was proven chatting with Mariupol residents and visiting an artwork faculty and a kids’s middle in Sevastopol, Crimea.

Mariupol grew to become a worldwide image of resistance after outgunned and outmanned Ukrainian forces held out in a metal mill there for practically three months earlier than Moscow lastly took management of it in Could. A lot of the town was pounded to rubble by Russian shelling.

Putin has not commented on the arrest warrant, which deepened his worldwide isolation regardless of the unlikelihood of him going through trial anytime quickly. The Kremlin, which doesn’t acknowledge the authority of the ICC, has rejected its transfer as “legally null and void.”

The shock journey additionally got here forward of a deliberate go to to Moscow by Chinese language President Xi Jinping this week, anticipated to offer a significant diplomatic increase to Putin in his confrontation with the West.

In an essay revealed Monday within the Individuals’s Each day, the newspaper of the Chinese language Communist Occasion’s Central Committee, Putin mentioned: “We’re grateful for the balanced line (of China) in reference to the occasions going down in Ukraine, for understanding their background and true causes. We welcome China’s willingness to play a constructive function in resolving the disaster.”

China in February launched a place paper calling for an finish to combating in Ukraine and for upholding all nations’ sovereignty and territorial integrity. It didn’t deal with methods to resolve Russia’s unlawful declare to have annexed 4 areas of Ukraine.

White Home Nationwide Safety Council spokesman John Kirby instructed “Fox Information Sunday” that any name for a cease-fire in Ukraine popping out of the Putin-Xi assembly can be unacceptable to the U.S. as a result of it might solely “ratify Russian’s conquest so far,” and provides Moscow “time to refit, retrain, re-man and attempt to plan for a renewed offensive.”

Putin arrived in Mariupol by helicopter after which drove himself across the metropolis’s “memorial websites,” live performance corridor and shoreline, Russian information reviews mentioned. The state Rossiya 24 channel on Sunday confirmed Putin chatting with locals exterior what appeared like a newly constructed residential complicated, and being proven round one of many flats.

Following his journey to Mariupol, Putin met with Russian army leaders and troops at a command submit in Rostov-on-Don, a southern Russian metropolis some 180 kilometers (about 112 miles) farther east, and conferred with Gen. Valery Gerasimov, who’s answerable for the Russian army operations in Ukraine. Peskov mentioned.

Peskov mentioned the journey had been unannounced, and that Putin meant to “examine the work of the (command) submit in its strange mode of operation.”

Chatting with the state RIA-Novosti company, Deputy Prime Minister Marat Khusnullin made clear that Russia was in Mariupol to remain. He mentioned the federal government hoped to complete the reconstruction of its blasted downtown by the tip of the 12 months.

“Individuals have began to return. Once they noticed that reconstruction is underway, folks began actively returning,” Khusnullin instructed RIA.

Mykhailo Podolyak, chief of employees for Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy, heaped scorn on Putin’s journey to Mariupol.

“The felony is all the time drawn to the crime scene,” he mentioned. “Whereas the nations of the civilized world are asserting the arrest of the ‘struggle director’ within the occasion of crossing the border, the organizer of the murders of 1000’s of Mariupol households got here to admire the ruins of the town and mass graves.”

When Moscow totally captured the town in Could, an estimated 100,000 folks remained, out of a prewar inhabitants of 450,000. Many have been trapped with out meals, water, warmth or electrical energy. Relentless bombardment left rows of shattered or hollowed-out buildings.

Mariupol’s plight first got here into worldwide focus with a Russian airstrike on a maternity hospital on March 9, 2022, lower than two weeks after the invasion of Ukraine started. Per week later, about 300 folks have been reported killed within the bombing of a theater getting used as the town’s largest bomb shelter. Proof obtained by The Related Press recommended the actual loss of life toll may very well be nearer to 600.

A small group of Ukrainian fighters held out for 83 days within the sprawling Azovstal metal works in jap Mariupol earlier than surrendering, their dogged protection tying down Russian forces and coming to represent Ukrainian tenacity within the face of Moscow’s aggression.

Russia annexed Crimea from Ukraine in 2014, a transfer that many of the world denounced as unlawful, and moved in September to formally declare 4 areas in Ukraine’s south and east as Russian territory, following referendums that Kyiv and the West described as a sham.

The ICC on Friday accused Putin of bearing private accountability for the abductions of kids from Ukraine. U.N. investigators additionally mentioned there was proof for the pressured switch of “a whole bunch” of Ukrainian kids to Russia. Based on Ukrainian authorities figures, over 16,000 kids have been deported to Russian-controlled territories or Russia itself, lots of them from Mariupol.

Whereas the ICC’s transfer was welcomed by Kyiv, the probabilities of Putin going through trial are slim as a result of Moscow doesn’t acknowledge the court docket’s jurisdiction or extradite its nationals.

Ukrainian officers reported Sunday that a minimum of three civilians had been killed and 19 wounded by Russian shelling within the earlier 24 hours. The deaths have been within the jap Donetsk area, amid fierce battles for management of the town of Bakhmut, based on Gov. Pavlo Kyrylenko on Ukrainian TV.

Kharkiv regional Gov. Oleh Syniehubov mentioned in a Telegram replace {that a} 51-year-old girl was “combating for her life” after being hit by shrapnel as Russian troops fired on the border city of Dvorichna.

High Ukrainian presidential aide Andriy Yermak mentioned Ukrainian troops have been holding the road close to Bakhmut, a key goal of an extended, grinding Russian offensive, including that the enemy’s plan to occupy the town “at the moment are foundering.”

The spokesman for Ukraine’s jap forces mentioned Russian troops are “tactically unable to finish” Bakhmut’s seize.

“Sure, there are very energetic battles, (the Russians) proceed to hold out a number of dozen assaults by inertia, however they undergo enormous losses,” Serhii Cherevaty mentioned on Ukrainian TV, including that Ukrainian defenses are “bleeding the enemy, breaking his combating spirit.”

Taking Bakhmut would give the Kremlin a battlefield victory after months of setbacks, and will pave the best way for Russia to threaten different Ukrainian strongholds within the area, together with Sloviansk and Kramatorsk.

Russian forces shelled a home in Bilozerka, a suburb west of the southern metropolis of Kherson, and a lady who was pulled from the rubble was hospitalized, based on the Kherson regional army administration, writing on Telegram.

Observe AP’s protection of the struggle in Ukraine:


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