Russian President Vladimir Putin visited a captured Ukrainian city on Sunday for the first time since he invaded the country last year.
Putin made an unannounced trip to the coastal city of Mariupol, a city Russian forces reduced to near ruins by artillery fire early in the invasion. The footage shows Putin driving through the city at night as Russian Deputy Prime Minister Marat Khusnullin explains the efforts Russian forces are making to rebuild the city.
Putin’s regime has touted reconstruction efforts in Mariupol as evidence of its claim to free Ukrainians from fascist leaders.
Mariupol saw some of the most dramatic and intense fighting of the first few months of the Russian invasion, with Ukrainian forces holding out at a steel mill after Russian forces nearly took the city. Ukrainian soldiers finally surrendered in May.
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Putin’s visit came days after the International Criminal Court (ICC) issued a warrant for his arrest over the abduction of Ukrainian children from their families last week.
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The ICC’s mandate has limited real-world impact, however, given the court’s limited jurisdiction. The move was immediately rejected by Moscow.
Putin is scheduled to meet Chinese President Xi Jinping in Moscow later this week as China attempts to negotiate peace terms between Russia and Ukraine.
Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy expressed skepticism about China’s entry into the peace arena, but said he was open to dialogue.
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Xi is expected to have a phone call with Zelenskyy sometime after his visit to Moscow. That call would be the first one-on-one interaction for the pair since before Putin’s invasion.