Putin returns to the scene of one of the bloodiest battles in Ukraine. "They are Nazis.  Decent people won't do that."

President Vladimir Putin made a surprise visit to Mariupol, a Ukrainian port city left in ruins after being captured by Russian forces, according to Russian state media. The surprise trip to the port city, site of one of the most brutal sieges of the war and a symbol of resistance, comes just days after the International Criminal Court issued an arrest warrant for the Russian president.

This comes just days after the International Criminal Court issued an arrest warrant for Putin. An official video shows the Russian president driving through the streets at night and talking to local people. It is reportedly Putin’s first visit to newly occupied Ukrainian territory.

The Ukrainian authorities also accused Putin of visiting Mariupol, in the east of the country, taking advantage of the night to hide the reality of a city totally destroyed by his army and to avoid “prying eyes”. “As befits a thief, Putin visited the Ukrainian city of Mariupol under cover of night,” the Ukrainian Ministry of Defense wrote on its Twitter account.

According to the Tass news agency, Putin traveled to Mariupol by helicopter. In the released video, he is seen in a black jeep driving through the city with Russian Deputy Prime Minister Marat Khusnullin, who describes the city’s reconstruction efforts.

Khusnullin says residents are returning to Mariupol due to Russia’s reconstruction efforts. “People started to return. When they saw that the reconstruction was underway, people started to return actively”, he says, adding that the city center, heavily damaged after being devastated by Russian bombings, will be rebuilt by the end of the year. . Putin is seen standing beside him and says, “They’re Nazis. Decent people won’t do that.”

The video also shows Putin speaking with local residents who are thanking Russia for rebuilding their apartments after their homes were destroyed. According to information obtained by the Financial Times, Putin also visited the Philharmonic Hall, which was used to stage the trials of the soldiers who defended the Azovstal iron and steel factory. Ukraine says more than 20,000 people have been killed in Mariupol, which has been under Russian occupation for more than 10 months after one of the longest and bloodiest battles of the conflict.

Russian President Vladimir Putin, left, and Russian Deputy Prime Minister Marat Khusnullin drive a car during their visit to Mariupol in Russia-controlled Donetsk region of Ukraine / POOL via AP

However, some experts have doubts about the authenticity of the footage. Stephen Hall, Professor of Russian and Post-Soviet Politics at the University of Bath, published footage of Putin in Mariupol and declared that the “grateful” citizens featured in the video could not be genuine. Anton Gerashchenko, adviser to the Minister of Internal Affairs of Ukraine, also compared the images of Putin behind his desk in his Security Council with the images coming out of Mariupol.

“Are you more afraid of your officers than of the ‘residents’ in Mariupol?” he asks.

Along the same lines, the Russian president also held a meeting at a military command and control post in the Russian city of Rostov-on-Don, about 100 kilometers from the border with Ukraine, according to Russian state news agency TASS, which reveals that Putin met with Valeriy Gerasimov, head of the General Staff of Russia and commander of Russian troops in Ukraine, and with Sergei Surovikin, deputy to Gerasimov.

At the same time as the visit was taking place, the council of the exiled city of Mariupol, Ukraine, this Sunday criticized Russian President Vladimir Putin’s visit to the port city that came under Moscow’s control since last year, after a long siege.” The international criminal Putin visited occupied Mariupol. He watched the ‘reconstruction of the city’ at night. Probably in order not to see the city, killed by its ‘liberation’, in the light of day,” the agency said on its official Telegram account.

A UN analysis estimates that 90% of buildings in Mariupol were damaged and around 350,000 people were forced out of the area, which had a population of around 500,000 before the outbreak of war. According to a group of locals who spoke to the BBC, Russia is conducting a costly campaign to rebuild the city and win the hearts and minds of its people, in a bid to assimilate Mariupol and make it Russia’s own.

The fighting over Mariupol also saw Russia attack a theater where hundreds of civilians were sheltering, and Ukraine and human rights groups said the attack constituted a war crime. Representatives of the United Nations have also come to argue that incidents like this could legally hold Putin and his regime accountable.

On Saturday, Putin had already made another surprise visit to Crimea to mark the ninth anniversary of the annexation of the Ukrainian peninsula by Russia in 2014. as part of a project to develop a historic park on the site of a former Greek colony.

Ukraine’s Foreign Ministry, meanwhile, marked the anniversary of Russia’s annexation of Crimea, lamenting the “suffering” of those under Kremlin control for nine years. In a statement released on Saturday, it is said that “for nine consecutive years, the Crimean peninsula has suffered under the criminal regime of the Kremlin, which has turned it into a military outpost, a zone of deprivation of liberty and harassment, aggression and terror against everything and everyone who had the courage to resist and defend their democratic rights and values”.

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Deborah Acker

I write epic fantasy; self-published via KDP. Devoted dog mom to my 10 yr old GSD, Shadow! DM not a priority; slow response at best #amwriting #author.

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