Russian President Vladimir Putin has visited the city of Mariupol, on his first trip to Donbas. According to the press office of the Russian Presidency, the president arrived by helicopter in that devastated city in the south of the Donetsk region, on the shores of the Azov Sea.
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Mariupol was besieged last year by Kremlin troops for weeks, causing a humanitarian catastrophe. The city fell to Russian hands in May, and Ukrainian authorities have said the death toll is in the thousands. There, corpses were found in individual or collective improvised graves in patios, streets and parks, in houses and apartments. As of June, the UN verified the deaths of 1,348 civilians directly in the hostilities but said the real number was likely “to be in the thousands more.” The true magnitude of the loss of life here will only be known in time.
During the visit, Putin toured various parts of the city by car, which he drove himself, accompanied by Deputy Prime Minister Marat Khusnulin. Shortly after, the Russian Presidency reported that Putin met in Rostov-on-Don, in southern Russia, with the commander of the military campaign in Ukraine.
This Saturday, Putin made a surprise trip to the Crimean peninsula on the ninth anniversary of its annexation by Russia. The president visited the Korsun Art School and children’s center in Chersonese, outside the port of Sevastopol, the main base of the Russian Black Sea Fleet.