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What is known about Putin’s surprise visit to the Ukrainian city of Mariupol

The Russian President, Vladimir Putinpaid a surprise visit to Mariupol, a port city in Ukraine that was occupied by Russia after its forces destroyed much of its infrastructure.

In a video released by the Russian government, Putin is seen driving a car through the streets of the city at night and talking with its inhabitants.

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The Kremlin assures that the images were filmed on Saturday night.

It is believed to be his first trip to a Ukrainian territory just busy.

Officials from the Ukrainian city, now in exile, said Putin visited the city at night because in daylight he would have seen how destroyed it was after shelling by his army.

The Kremlin said Putin’s decision to go to Mariupol had been “spontaneous.”

He also claimed that the Russian president met with military commanders in Rostov-on-Don, a Russian city east of Mariupol.

According to the Tass news agency, Putin traveled to Mariupol by helicopter. Also featured in the video is Russia’s Deputy Prime Minister Marat Khusnullin, who explains how the city is being rebuilt.

10 months occupied by Russia

Putin also appears to be visiting the Philharmonic Hall, which was used to hold trials of servicemen who defended the Azovstal steel plant, a huge industrial complex where Ukrainian troops held out before surrendering.

Mariupol has been under Russian occupation for more than 10 months after being devastated in one of the longest battles and bloody conflict.

Ukraine says more than 20,000 people have died in the city.

A United Nations analysis estimates that 90% of buildings were damaged and around 350,000 people were forced to flee the city, which before the war had a population of around 500,000.

Putin was filmed looking at maps near residential buildings. (REUTERS).

A group of residents told the BBC that Russia is waging an expensive campaign to rebuild the city and win the hearts and minds of its people.

The purpose is to turn Mariupol into a Russian city. Moscow claims that currently 300,000 people live in the town.

During the battle for the city, Russia carried out an attack on a large theater in Mariupol where hundreds of civilians were sheltering. The building collapsed and at least 300 people are believed to have died in the Russian operation.

Ukraine and human rights groups say the attack was a war crime.

It is one of the incidents for which Putin and his regime could be legally responsible, according to the UN.

The International Criminal Court reported on Friday that it had issued a arrest warrant against Putin for carrying out the illegal deportation of Ukrainian children to Russia. This means that he could now be arrested if he sets foot in any of the Court’s 123 member states.

Putin in a house in Mariupol.  (REUTERS).

Putin in a house in Mariupol. (REUTERS).

Putin paid an unannounced visit to Crimea on Saturday to mark the ninth anniversary of the Ukrainian territory’s annexation.

He visited a new Russian art school, a children’s summer camp and upcoming cultural projects including the New Russia museum and the Museum of Christianity, Russian state media reported.

The Kyiv authorities have pledged to liberate all Russian-occupied territories, including Crimea, which was annexed by Russia in 2014.

Source: Elcomercio

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