Putin’s stay in the annexed Crimea and occupied Mariupol, less than 48 hours after the International Criminal Court issued an arrest warrant for the Russian president on charges of war crimes, were “derogatory gestures,” the American newspaper The New York Times assessed. Pro-Kremlin propaganda media widely reported on Putin’s travels.
March 18, 2014 Russia illegally annexed the Ukrainian Crimea, signing an agreement to incorporate the peninsula and Sevastopol into the Russian Federation as “new entities”. On Saturday, the ninth anniversary, pro-Kremlin media reported that Vladimir Putin visited Sevastopol. On Sunday morning, a message appeared on the Kremlin’s website that Putin went to Mariupol, where he “visited several objects of the city and also talked with the residents.” As reported by the propaganda agency RIA Novosti, Putin announced that he would “issue recommendations to solve the problems that the inhabitants of Mariupol told him about”.
Ukrainian media pointed out that the video of Putin’s visit to occupied Mariupol was taken at night. “The recording shows Putin standing in a yard surrounded by new apartment buildings, a new playground is visible, and the street is clean. The recording looks as if the occupiers never destroyed and shelled Mariupol,” the tsn.ua portal reported.
The American newspaper The New York Times wrote that “These two high-level visits (to Sevastopol and Mariupol – ed.) are the Kremlin’s defiant gestures in less than 48 hours after an international tribunal accused Putin of war crimes and issued a warrant for his arrest“.
Writing about Mariupol, the New York Times emphasized that “the defiant Putin visited the city destroyed by Russian troops, and the symbolic trip was the first trip of a Russian leader to territory occupied by his army.”
The newspaper recalls that “before the Russian invasion plunged Mariupol into one of the fiercest urban battles in recent years, the city was home to over 400,000 people and home to Europe’s largest steel mill.”
After a brutal assault
Russian troops occupied Mariupol last May after a brutal assault that lasted for weeks. As a result of the aggressor’s actions, tens of thousands of inhabitants probably died there.
Mariupol in the Donetsk region is the closest to the front line in Ukraine a place that Putin has visited since February 24 last year, when the Russian military invasion of Ukraine began.
PAP, tsn.ua, “New York Times”, tvn24.pl
Main photo source: PAP/EPA