VLADIMIR Putin has made a shock visit to the occupied Ukrainian city of Mariupol, according to Russian state media.
It comes just days after an arrest warrant was issued for the tyrant over alleged war crimes in the war-torn country.
State media reported Putin made a “working trip” to the war-ravaged port city of Mariupol, his first visit to the Russian-occupied territories of Ukraine‘s Donbas region since the conflict began.
Putin flew into the city by helicopter, Russian news agencies reported citing the Kremlin.
He travelled around several districts of the city, making stops and talking to residents.
It is the closest to the front lines Putin has been since the year-long war began.
Mariupol fell in May after one of the war’s longest and bloodiest battles, marking Russia’s first major victory after it failed to seize Kyiv and focused instead on southeastern Ukraine
The Organisation for Security and Cooperation and Europe (OSCE) said Russia’s early bombing of a maternity hospital there was a war crime.
Putin is yet to comment publicly on the ICC warrant, but his trips into Ukrainian territory claimed by Russia have been seen by some observers as an act of defiance.
On Saturday, Putin made an appearance in the disputed Ukrainian territory of Crimea, which was illegally annexed by Putin‘s forces in 2014.
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In the short clip published on the Russian social media network VK, Putin, 70, was seen walking stiffly with his head bowed.
He was shown opening an art school and a children’s centre in the port city of Sevastopol.
The visit came after the International Criminal Court on Friday accused the Russian tyrant of the “unlawful deportation” of children from Ukraine – a war crime under the Geneva Convention.
Alongside Putin, officials at the ICC charged his children’s commissioner, Maria Lvova-Belova, of orchestrating the alleged kidnapping of thousands of children.
Video filmed in February shows Putin and Lvova-Belova casually discussing how she brought back a child from Ukraine.
Putin is seen approving Lvova-Belova’s personal adoption of the boy from Mariupol, a city in southern Ukraine flattened by the Russian invasion last year.
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