Putin visited occupied Mariupol, a symbol of Ukrainian resistance

(CNN) Vladimir Putin In an apparent defiant move reported by the Kremlin, he has traveled to Russian-occupied Mariupol, days after the International Criminal Court issued an arrest warrant for him.

Putin flew Mariupol He toured districts around the city by helicopter and in a car, according to a Kremlin statement released on Sunday.

The Russian leader said he stopped to speak with residents in the city’s Nevsky neighborhood and was invited to a resident’s home. It is not clear when this visit took place.

News of the visit comes after the ICC on Friday issued arrest warrants for Putin and Russian official Maria Lavova-Belova for a scheme to deport Ukrainian children to Russia.

The visit could be seen as particularly provocative to Ukrainians, as Mariupol has long been a symbol of resistance and has seen some of the most intense fighting since Russia launched its invasion last year.

Kremlin Putin also inspected Mariupol beach, visited a yacht club and a theater building.

Russian Deputy Prime Minister Marat Kuznulin spoke to Putin in detail about the “ongoing construction and restoration work”.

The Kremlin added that Putin held a meeting at the command post of the special military operation in Rostov-on-Don.

Putin heard statements from Chief of General Staff — First Deputy Defense Minister Valery Gerasimov and several military chiefs, the report continued.

MariupolA port city on the Sea of ‚Äč‚ÄčAzov, located in the Donetsk region of Ukraine and under direct Russian control as of May 2022.

It was inside Mariupol Russian forces carried out some of their worst attacks Attack on maternity ward Last March and the Bombing the theater This forced hundreds of civilians to take shelter.

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Mariupol became a symbol of Ukrainian resistance during weeks of relentless Russian attacks last year. Famously, even when most of the city fell, its defenders held out for weeks at the Azovstal steel mill.

Defense analysts previously told CNN that Russian forces were trying to level the city of Mariupol “to make it easier to control.”

A third of the 450,000 people who lived in the city before the war already lived there left

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