Vladimir Putin visits occupied Ukrainian city of Mariupol, Russian media report | world news
Vladimir Putin visited the occupied Ukrainian city of Mariupol, according to Russian media.
The president made what state media described as a “working trip” to the port city, which he annexed in September last year after Russia invasion of Ukraine.
Mr Putin, who arrived by helicopter, toured several parts of the city, making stops and talking to locals, according to Russian news agency TASS, citing the Kremlin.
It would be his first trip to Russian-occupied Ukrainian territory since its invasion last year.
This visit follows the widely condemned annexation of Donetsk, Kherson, Luhansk and Zaporizhzhia regions in September.
The visit also comes as Mr Putin visited Crimea to mark the ninth anniversary of the annexation of the Black Sea peninsula to Ukraine in 2014.
Most of the world views Russia’s annexations as illegal, while Ukraine has said it will fight to reclaim the areas.
Mariupol, a strategically important city located in Donetsk Oblast and bordering the Sea of Azov, was the scene of some of the fiercest fighting at the start of the war.
Ukrainian forces dug into the city’s Azovstal steelworks for a last-ditch defence, which ended in surrender in May after a three-month siege of the facility by Russia.
Along with the visit, Russian media reported that Mr Putin had met with the top command of his military operation in Ukraine, including Chief of the General Staff Valery Gerasimov.
The meeting is said to have taken place at the Rostov-on-Don command post in southern Russia, near the Ukrainian border, according to TASS.