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Putin visits Russia-occupied Mariupol in Ukraine

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Russian President Vladimir Putin visited the Ukrainian city of Mariupol in the Donetsk region, which has been occupied by Russian forces since May last year.

The TASS news agency, citing the Kremlin, reported that Putin traveled to Mariupol by helicopter and toured several parts of the city, stopping and talking with local residents.

Reports of Mariupol’s visit came a day after the Russian leader visited Crimea to mark the ninth anniversary of Ukraine’s annexation of the Black Sea peninsula. On Saturday, Russian state television showed him touring the Black Sea port city of Sevastopol with Moscow-appointed local governor Mikhail Razugaev.

Russia annexed Crimea to Ukraine in 2014 after a referendum, which was not recognized by Kiev and the international community.

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky called on Russia to withdraw from the peninsula as well as the areas it occupied since last year.

Putin’s visit to Mariupol also comes after the International Criminal Court said on Friday it had issued an arrest warrant for him, charging him with the war crime of illegally deporting hundreds of children from Ukraine.

Putin has not yet publicly commented on the memo. A Kremlin spokesman called it “null and void” and said Russia considered the very cases raised by the ICC “scandalous and unacceptable”.

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