The Nighttime Odyssey

In the darkness, the Russian president, Vladimir Putin, clandestinely arrived in Mariupol. This Ukrainian port, once bustling and lively, has been left in shambles following Russian occupation. The dimly lit streets became the backdrop of Putin’s unexpected visit.

A Stealthy Journey

The Kremlin divulged that this nighttime excursion unfolded on Saturday. Mariupol, now under Russian control, is believed to be Putin’s initial foray into recently occupied Ukrainian territories.

Vadym Boychenko, Mariupol’s displaced mayor, decried Putin as a “malefactor” who had “revisited the scene of his transgression.” He added, “He ventured here to observe his handiwork—what he will inevitably be penalized for.”

Other Ukrainian officials, also in exile, posited that Putin’s nocturnal visit concealed the city’s devastation from him.

The Transport Method: Chopper to Car

According to Tass news agency, Putin flew into Mariupol via helicopter. The video depicts him riding alongside Russia’s Deputy Prime Minister Marat Khusnullin, who elucidated the city’s ongoing reconstruction.

In a seemingly impromptu decision, the Russian leader opted to drive around the city.

Unexpected Stops

Putin’s journey also encompassed a visit to the Philharmonic Hall. The edifice served as the setting for the trials of Azovstal iron and steel plant defenders—a substantial industrial facility where Ukrainian troops persevered before succumbing.

Furthermore, the Russian leader allegedly convened with high-ranking military officials in Rostov-on-Don, a Russian city situated east of Mariupol.

The Aftermath of War: Mariupol’s Desolation

Mariupol has languished under Russian occupation for over 10 months, scarred by one of the most protracted and brutal battles of the conflict. Ukraine estimates that over 20,000 people perished in the city.

United Nations assessments indicate that 90% of buildings sustained damage, displacing approximately 350,000 residents from the pre-war population of 500,000.

Locals have informed the BBC that Russia is investing heavily in Mariupol’s reconstruction in an effort to sway public opinion and assimilate the city as their own. Russian authorities claim that 300,000 people currently reside in Mariupol.

The Theatre Tragedy

The battle saw a Russian strike on a Mariupol theater housing hundreds of civilians. Its collapse resulted in an estimated 300 fatalities.

Ukraine and human rights organizations have condemned the attack as a war crime. The United Nations has warned that Putin and his regime could face legal repercussions for such incidents.

The International Criminal Court’s Involvement

On Friday, the International Criminal Court (ICC) issued an arrest warrant for Putin regarding the illicit deportation of Ukrainian children to Russia. Consequently, he could be detained if he ventures into any of the court’s 123 member states.

Crimea: An Unannounced Visit

Putin’s unexpected journey to Crimea on Saturday commemorated the ninth anniversary of Russia’s annexation of the territory from Ukraine.

Russian state media reported that he toured a new Russian arts school, a children’s summer camp, and envisioned cultural projects such as the New Russia museum and the museum of Christianity.

The Kyiv authorities have vowed to liberate all Russian-occupied territories, including Crimea, which Russia annexed in 2014.