Mar 19, 2023 - World

Putin makes surprise visit to Ukrainian city of Mariupol

Vladimir Putin speaks with Deputy Prime Minister Marat Khusnullin as they look at reconstruction illustrations while he visits Mariupol on March 18. Photo: Pool/AFP via Getty Images

Russian President Vladimir Putin visited the occupied port city of Mariupol this weekend, marking his first trip to Ukrainian territory that Russia annexed in September.

Why it matters: Mariupol became a symbol of Ukrainian resistance last year as it endured a devastating and sustained siege by Russian forces.

State of play: Putin flew into Mariupol for the unscheduled trip via helicopter and then drove around several parts of the city, Kremlin spokesperson Dmitry Peskov told reporters Sunday, state news agency RIA Novosti reported.

  • Putin's trip extended from late Saturday into Sunday, Peskov said, state news agency TASS reported.

The big picture: The visit comes just days after International Criminal Court (ICC) issued an arrest warrant for Putin for war crimes charges and ahead of Chinese President Xi Jinping's visit to Moscow this week.

  • "The criminal always returns to the crime scene," Mykhailo Podolyak, an adviser to Ukraine President Volodymyr Zelensky, tweeted Sunday in response to the visit, adding that, "the murderer of thousands of Mariupol families came to admire the ruins of the city & graves."
Go deeper