Russian President Vladimir Putin visited Donbass. TASS notesthat this is his first trip to the region. This is also the first visit of the president to the cities that Russia annexed in the fall of 2022. Previously in the Kremlin spokethat Putin will visit Donbass when “the time comes”.
According to the Kremlin press service, Putin paid a working visit to the city of Mariupol. Press Secretary of the President of the Russian Federation Dmitry Peskov declaredthat Putin visited the city on the evening of March 18 and on the night of March 19. Journalists of “Layout” confirmedthat Putin really visited Mariupol.
The President arrived in Mariupol by helicopter, and then drove around several districts of the city, the Kremlin said. So, he examined the coastline in the area of the yacht club, the square and other “memorable places”, as well as the “restored philharmonic society” and the university.
After a visit to Mariupol, Putin held a meeting at a command post in Rostov-on-Don, where he met with Chief of the General Staff of the RF Armed Forces Valery Gerasimov.
Putin was accompanied by Deputy Prime Minister Marat Khusnullin, who reported on the progress of construction and restoration work in the city. Video from the trip was published by Russian state media.
Among other things, Khusnullin told Putin that the Ukrainian troops allegedly fired at residential buildings during the retreat. “It is very clear what they did. Where we were advancing, there were no shell strikes at all. From their side, they hit us with direct fire with tanks, you can clearly see how they were retreating – they hit them right at home. They beat them, they just destroyed them,” the Deputy Prime Minister said. According to him, the Armed Forces of Ukraine also allegedly mined the bodies of the dead and equipment in the city’s hospitals. “The so-called Nazis. Normal people would not do that,” Putin said.
During the visit, Putin spoke with local residents who received new housing to replace the destroyed one, says the Kremlin press service. RIA News published video of the meeting of the Russian president with the residents of the Nevsky microdistrict. One of the women who participated in the meeting said that the locals had “waited” and were “praying” for Putin. Answering the president’s question whether they like it in Nevsky, she said: “Very much. It’s a little piece of heaven we have here.”
“Verstka” found one of the meeting participants in social networks, confirming that he really lives in Mariupol.
Telegram channel “We can explain” noticed on the reaction of the inhabitants of Mariupol in social networks to Putin’s visit. The journalists noted that Nevsky, where Putin was brought, is “in fact the only rebuilt microdistrict in the completely destroyed city.” The Telegram channel cited several quotes from chats of residents of other districts of Mariupol:
“It’s a pity that he didn’t drive up to our house, the left bank, the square! No windows, no doors, no hot water and heating. I would talk to the locals.”
“Why take him there, he was taken to those places that have been preserved and new buildings. No one will show him empty pits from under the foundations of destroyed houses..
“We ***** are not needed here. Everything is done for the picture on TV, for people in Russia to watch.”
Putin’s visit to Mariupol came as a surprise to Kremlin pool journalists and officials, writes “Layout”. A similar surprise for them was Putin’s trip to the annexed Crimea on March 18. The publication notes that in the photographs and video of the visit there is no head of the Russian Defense Ministry Sergei Shoigu, as well as the head of the self-proclaimed DPR Denis Pushilin. Nestka considers this evidence that Putin’s trip to the Donbass was not planned.
Later, the Kremlin spokesman declaredthat trips to Mariupol and to the command post in Rostov-on-Don were not planned. By words Press Secretary of the President of the Russian Federation Dmitry Peskov, Putin traveled around Mariupol practically without a motorcade.
Russia captured Mariupol in the spring of 2022 after a two and a half month siege. The city finally came under the control of the Russian troops, after the last group of Ukrainian military who held the defense at the Azovstal plant surrendered in May. By data legitimate authorities of Mariupol, during the Russian occupation in the city, half of the houses and 90% of the infrastructure were destroyed.
February Ukrainian sources report periodic explosions in Mariupol, which is located 80 kilometers from the front line. The Ukrainian side also declared about the hits of APU missiles in the city. Russian-appointed Mariupol authorities reported about the work of air defense, but the destruction was denied. in the Armed Forces spokethat the direction of Mariupol is no longer “absolutely out of reach” for the Ukrainian military.