Russia Monitor is a review of the most important events related to Russian internal and external security, as well as its foreign policies.
Date: 20 March 2023 Author: Grzegorz Kuczyński
Putin Pays Bizarre Visit to Occupied Ukraine
President Vladimir Putin made a surprise trip to war-ravaged Mariupol. The visit came after Putin visited Crimea to mark the anniversary of Russia’s annexation of the peninsula. Two days before, the International Criminal Court had issued a warrant for his arrest on war crimes charges. The dictator’s visit to the occupied areas of Ukraine stirred up major controversy.
On March 18, Russian President Vladimir Putin unexpectedly traveled to Crimea to mark the ninth anniversary of the Black Sea peninsula’s annexation. The trip was the dictator’s first to the Russian-occupied territories of the Donbas region since Russia invaded Ukraine. It was Putin’s first Crimea visit since November 2021. He went to the occupied peninsula alongside Metropolitan Tikhon, a senior Russian Orthodox priest who is known to be a close associate of the Russian president. The Russian dictator traveled to Mariupol at night, where he visited the Nevsky district of Mariupol that has been built by the Russian military. Mariupol, which fell to Russia in May after one of the war’s longest and bloodiest battles, was Russia’s first major victory in Ukraine. Tens of thousands of civilians could be dead in Mariupol. A humanitarian crisis enveloped the city, with residents cut off from food supplies, drinking water, and medicine. Mariupol is the closest Putin has come to the front lines since the start of the full-scale invasion last year. Putin traveled to occupied territories of Ukraine shortly after the International Criminal Court (ICC) had issued an arrest warrant against the president, accusing him of war crimes. Following his trip to Mariupol, Putin met with Russian military leaders and troops at a command post in Rostov-on-Don, according to state TV channel Rossiya 24. The footage shows that Putin entered the meeting accompanied by Valery Gerasimov, Chief of the General Staff of the Russian Federation of the “special operation” in Ukraine since January. Both enter a room, greeted by General Sergei Surovikin and some military people. It is unclear where the video was actually filmed.
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