Ukraine war: Putin pays visit to occupied Mariupol, state media reports

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Media caption,

Watch: Putin takes a thrust astir occupied Mariupol

By Laurence Peter

BBC News

Russian President Vladimir Putin has paid a astonishment sojourn to Mariupol, a Ukrainian larboard captured by Russia aft its forces pounded overmuch of it to ruins.

An authoritative video shows Mr Putin driving a car done streets astatine nighttime and speaking to people. The Kremlin says it happened precocious connected Saturday.

It is believed to beryllium his archetypal travel to a newly-occupied Ukrainian territory.

Exiled Ukrainian metropolis officials said Mr Putin had visited astatine nighttime truthful helium would not spot the destroyed metropolis successful daylight.

The Kremlin said Mr Putin's determination to spell to Mariupol had been "spontaneous". The Russian person is besides reported to person met apical subject commanders successful Rostov-on-Don, a Russian metropolis conscionable eastbound of Mariupol.

Tass quality bureau says helium travelled to Mariupol by helicopter. In the video helium is successful the car with Russia's Deputy Prime Minister Marat Khusnullin, who explains however the metropolis is being rebuilt.

Putin besides appears to sojourn the Philharmonic Hall, which was utilized to signifier trials of defenders of the Azovstal robust and alloy plant, a immense concern analyzable wherever Ukrainian troops held retired earlier yet surrendering.

Mariupol has been nether Russian concern for much than 10 months aft being devastated successful 1 of the longest and bloodiest battles of the conflict. Ukraine says much than 20,000 radical were killed there.

UN investigation estimates that 90% of the buildings were damaged and astir 350,000 radical were forced to leave, our of a pre-war colonisation of astir 500,000.

Image source, Reuters

Image caption,

Mr Putin was filmed looking astatine maps adjacent residential buildings

A radical of locals person told the BBC that Russia is conducting an costly campaign to rebuild the metropolis and triumph implicit the hearts and minds of its people. The intent is to assimilate Mariupol and marque it Russia's own. Russian authorities accidental 300,000 radical are present surviving there.

The warring saw Russia onslaught a Mariupol theatre wherever hundreds of civilians were sheltering. The gathering collapsed, and astatine slightest 300 are believed to person died there.

Ukraine and quality rights groups accidental the onslaught amounted to a warfare crime.

It is among incidents for which Mr Putin and his authorities could beryllium held legally responsible, the United Nations has said.

The International Criminal Court said connected Friday it had issued a warrant for the apprehension of Mr Putin implicit involving the amerciable deportation of Ukrainian children to Russia. It means helium could present beryllium arrested if helium sets ft successful immoderate of the court's 123 subordinate states.

On Saturday Mr Putin made an unannounced sojourn to Crimea, to people the ninth day of Russia's annexation of the territory from Ukraine.

He visited a caller Russian arts school, a children's summertime campy and aboriginal taste projects, specified arsenic the New Russia depository and depository of Christianity, Russian authorities media reported.

The Kyiv authorities person vowed to liberate each Russian-occupied territories, including Crimea, which was annexed by Russia successful 2014.

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