Defiant Putin Visits Mariupol, Second Cease in Tour of Occupied Ukraine

President Vladimir V. Putin of Russia traveled to Mariupol, his second shock go to to Russian-occupied territory in Ukraine this weekend, and a defiant gesture quickly after a global courtroom had issued a warrant for his arrest.

Mr. Putin flew by helicopter from Crimea after which toured Mariupol, in Donetsk Province within the east, based on the state information outlet Tass on Sunday. Mariupol was the positioning of one of many fiercest battles since Russia invaded Ukraine final yr. The report from Tass referred to the cease as “a working journey” for Mr. Putin to assessment development and restoration work within the metropolis, which was as soon as dwelling to half 1,000,000 individuals and Europe’s largest metal plant.

It was Mr. Putin’s second unannounced journey of the weekend to Russian-occupied areas of Ukraine, and the closest the Russian chief has been to the entrance traces because the invasion final February. His journey on Saturday to Crimea was timed to coincide with the ninth anniversary of Russia’s unlawful annexation of the peninsula. The 2 high-profile visits have been additionally defiant gestures from the Kremlin lower than 48 hours after a global courtroom issued a warrant for his arrest. The warrant claims that he bore particular person legal accountability for the kidnapping and deportation of Ukrainian kids that has taken place since Russia’s invasion final yr.

Because the begin of winter, each side have been locked in a grinding battle for land within the east the place the entrance line has barely moved, every military working wanting ammunition and experiencing mounting casualties. Mr. Putin has proven no indicators of easing up or heading to the negotiating desk, and President Volodymyr Zelensky of Ukraine has vowed to recapture all of the territory that Russia grabbed, together with Crimea.

To date, Ukraine has regained about half of that territory. And it has persuaded a number of of its allies in NATO to supply their most respected weapons, together with tanks, missiles, antimissile methods and — simply final week — fighter jets. Because the warfare enters its second yr, Mr. Putin has discovered himself additional remoted, with a rising listing of sanctions and nice hurdles to promoting his nation’s gasoline and oil, which finance the warfare. It has prompted him to show to Iran for weapons, together with drones and missiles, and to Belarus, the place he staged troops for final yr’s invasion and is doing the identical for a brand new offensive. Mr. Putin was simply in Belarus in December to go to President Aleksandr G. Lukashenko.

On Monday, he’ll host Moscow’s most necessary ally, China’s chief, Xi Jinping.

China has stated the go to by Mr. Xi gives Beijing a chance to push Mr. Putin to peace talks and has hinted {that a} name with Mr. Zelensky might observe. However america has argued that China just isn’t an trustworthy dealer and is offering Russia with much-needed provides for the warfare, accusations that China has denied and which have helped drive relations between the 2 powers to the bottom in a long time.

For months final yr, Russia poured hundreds of troops into Mariupol, dwelling to Europe’s largest metal plant, and indiscriminately bombarded the town. Outnumbered and with fewer and fewer refined weapons, Ukraine’s army held on for weeks, ultimately taking shelter within the metropolis’s metal manufacturing unit. Lastly in Might, Ukrainian forces retreated, leaving the devastated metropolis in Russian management.

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