Ukraine War:Vladimir Putin Pays Visit To Occupied Mariupol

 The President Of Russia "Vladimir Putin" has paid a surprise visit to Mariupol, a Ukrainian port captured by Russia after its forces pounded much of it to ruins.

An official video shows that Mr Putin driving a car through streets at night and speaking to people. The Kremlin says it happened late on Saturday.

It is believed to be Putin's 1st trip to a newly-occupied Ukrainian territory.

It was told by Mariupol's exiled mayor to a News reporter that Mr Putin was a "criminal" who had "returned to the scene of the crime".

"He has come in person to see what he has done," Vadym Boychenko said. "He's come to see what he will be punished for."

Other exiled Ukrainian city officials said Mr Putin had visited at night so he would not see the destroyed city in daylight.

The Kremlin said Mr Putin's decision to go to Mariupol had been "spontaneous". The Russian leader is also reported to have met top military commanders in Rostov-on-Don, a Russian city just east of Mariupol.

Tass news agency says that Putin travelled to Mariupol by helicopter. In the video he is in the car with Russia's Deputy Prime Minister Marat Khusnullin, who explains how the city is being rebuilt.

Putin also appears to visit the Philharmonic Hall, that was used to stage trials of defenders of the Azovstal iron and steel plant, a huge industrial complex where Ukrainian troops held out before eventually surrendering.

Mariupol has been under Russian occupation for more than Ten months after being devastated in 1 of the longest and bloodiest battles of the conflict. Ukraine says more than 20 thousands people were killed there.

UN analysis estimates that 90 percent of the buildings were damaged and around 350,000 people were forced to leave, our of a pre-war population of about 500,000.

A group of locals have told A News Reporter that Russia is conducting an expensive campaign to rebuild the city and win over the hearts and minds of its people. The purpose is to assimilate Mariupol and make it Russia's own. Russian authorities say 300,000 people are now living there.

The fighting saw Russia strike a Mariupol theatre where hundreds of civilians were sheltering. The building collapsed, and at least 300 people are believed to have died there.

Human rights groups and Ukraine say the attack amounted to a war crime.

It is among incidents for which Mr Putin and his regime could be held legally responsible, It was said by the United Nations.

The International Criminal Court said on Friday it had issued a warrant for the arrest of Mr Putin over involving the illegal deportation of Ukrainian children to Russia. It means he could now be arrested if he sets foot in any of the court's 123 member states.

On Saturday Mr Putin made an unannounced visit to Crimea, to mark the 9th anniversary of Russia's annexation of the territory from Ukraine.

He visited a new Russian arts school, a children's summer camp and future cultural projects, such as the New Russia museum and museum of Christianity, Russian state media reported.

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

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