Putin defies arrest warrant for war crimes and visits Mariupol
Russian state news agencies reported today that he was in the city which became a worldwide symbol of defiance after outgunned and outmanned Ukrainian forces held out in a steel mill there for nearly three months.
It was eventually taken over by the Kremlin in May.
Yesterday Putin travelled to Crimea, a short distance south-west of Mariupol, to mark the ninth anniversary of the Black Sea peninsula’s annexation from Ukraine.
The visits came days after the International Criminal Court issued an arrest warrant for the Russian leader accusing him of war crimes.
Mr Putin arrived in Mariupol by helicopter and then drove himself around the city’s ‘memorial sites’, concert hall and coastline.
They said Mr Putin also met with residents in the city’s Nevskyi district.
Russian Deputy Prime Minister Marat Khusnulin made clear that Russia is in Mariupol to stay.
He said the government hopes to finish the reconstruction of its damaged city centre by the end of the year.
He said: ‘People have started to return. When they saw that reconstruction is underway, people started actively returning.’
When Moscow fully captured the city in May, an estimated 100,000 people remained out of a pre-war population of 450,000. Many were trapped without food, water, heat, or electricity.
Relentless bombardment left rows upon rows of shattered or hollowed-out buildings.
Source of data and images: metro