Putin is in Donbass for the first time. He visited Mariupol, which was destroyed by Russia


During the first period of the invasion of Ukraine, the Russian troops destroyed this city, and then the city was incorporated into the Russian Federation.

Photo: AP / Scanpix / LETA

Russian President Vladimir Putin visited Donbass after Crimea. TASS agency notes that this is his first trip to this region. This is also his first visit to the territories of Ukraine annexed by Russia in the fall of 2022. Earlier, the Kremlin said that Putin will visit Donbass “when the time comes”.

According to the press service of the Kremlin, Putin paid a working visit to the city of Mariupol. According to Dmitry Peskov, press secretary of the President of the Russian Federation, Putin visited the city on the evening of March 18, on the night of March 19. “Verstki” journalists confirmed that Putin was indeed in Mariupol.

According to the Kremlin, the president flew to Mariupol by helicopter, and then got into a car and toured several districts of the city. In particular, he visited the coastline of the yacht club, the promenade in front of the drama theater and other “places of interest”, as well as the “restored philharmonic hall” and university buildings.

After the visit to Mariupol, Putin held a meeting at the command post in Rostov-on-Don, where he met with the Chief of the General Staff of the Russian Armed Forces Valery Gerasimov.

Putin was accompanied by Vice Prime Minister Marat Khusnullin, who reported on the progress of construction and reconstruction works in the city. Russian state publications published travel videos.

Marat Khusnullin and Vladimir Putin. A screenshot from the video of Russian publications. AP/Scanpix/LETA

Khusnullin, among other things, told Putin that the Ukrainian army allegedly fired on settlements during the retreat spoke. “What they did is clearly visible. There were no shelling in the places where we marched. They were hit by tanks, retreated and shot at the houses. They hit and destroyed,” said the vice-premier. According to him, Ukrainian armed forces also allegedly mined bodies and equipment in city hospitals. “These people are called Nazis. “Normal people don’t do that,” Putin said.

During the visit, Putin met with representatives of the local population who got new houses instead of their destroyed ones. This was reported by the Kremlin press service. RIA Novosti released a video showing the meeting of the Russian president with the residents of the Nevsky microdistrict. One of the women who attended the meeting said that she was “waiting” for Putin and “praying” for him. In response to the president’s question whether he likes living in Nevsky, he said: “Very much so.” This is a piece of heaven for us.”

Vladimir Putin during his visit to “Nevsky” microdistrict. A screenshot from the video of Russian publications

AP / Scanpix / LETA

“Verstka” found out the social network page of one of the participants in the meeting and that he really lives in Mariupol. confirmed.

“Mojem obyasnit” telegram channel paid attention to the posts made by residents of Mariupol on social networks in connection with Putin’s visit. According to the journalists, “Nevsky”, where Putin was brought, “is the only micro-district that has been rebuilt in the practically completely destroyed city”. The Telegram channel quoted the following quotes from the chat of residents of other regions of Mariupol:

“Unfortunately, he did not come to our house on the left bank, on the square! To our house without windows, doors, drinking water and heat. When he came, he would have talked with the local population.”

“Why did they take him there, where the houses were intact and new houses were built?” No one will show him the empty pits under the foundations of the ruined houses.”

“Nobody needs us ***** here. Everything is being done for the picture on TV, for people in Russia to see.”

Putin’s visit to Mariupol was unexpected even for journalists and officials in the Kremlin. “Verstka” writes. Like his visit to the annexed Crimea on March 18. The publication drew attention to the absence of Russian Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu, as well as the head of the DPR, Denis Pushilin, in the photos and videos of the visit. “Verstka” considered this as evidence that Putin’s visit to Donbass was not planned in advance.

Later, the Kremlin representative reported that the trip to Mariupol and the meeting at the command post in Rostov-on-Don were not planned in advance. According to Dmitry Peskov, the press secretary of the Russian President, Putin went to Mariupol practically without a motorcade.

Russia captured Mariupol in the spring of 2022, as a result of a siege that lasted two and a half months. After the last group of Ukrainian soldiers who defended themselves at the Azovstal plant surrendered in May, the city came under the control of Russian troops. According to the legal government of Mariupol, during the Russian occupation, half of the houses in the city and 90% of the infrastructure were destroyed.

Since February, sources in Ukraine have been reporting explosions in Mariupol, 80 kilometers from the front line. boshladi The Ukrainian side also reported that missiles of the Ukrainian Armed Forces had reached the city. The RF-appointed government of Mariupol reported that an air defense system had been activated, but denied that there had been any damage. According to the Armed Forces of Ukraine, Mariupol is no longer an “absolutely inaccessible” area for the Ukrainian military.



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