🔘Putin makes a surprise visit to Mariupol and tours an occupied city destroyed by war #UkraineRussianWar #PutinWarCrimes.
The roots of Russias invasion of Ukraine go back decades and run deep. The current conflict is more than one country fighting to take over another; it is — in the words of one U.S. official — a shift in "the world order."Here are some helpful stories to make sense of it all.
In this photo taken from video released by the Russian TV pool on Sunday, March 19, 2023, Russian President Vladimir Putin talks with local residents during a surprise visit to Mariupol. AP hide caption
In this photo taken from video released by the Russian TV pool on Sunday, March 19, 2023, Russian President Vladimir Putin talks with local residents during a surprise visit to Mariupol.
Russian President Vladimir Putin made an unannounced trip to the occupied city of Mariupol on Saturday, touring parts of the Ukrainian city that is now rebuilding after fierce attacks by Russian forces last year.
It has been roughly 1o months since Russian forces took control of Mariupol in one of the key battles in the war in Ukraine, which has now been dragging on for more than a year.
Mariupol came under siege by the Russian military in February of last year, but local fighters were able to hold off the larger and better-armed forces for several months before losing control of the city in May, making Mariupol a symbol for Ukraines underdog spirit in the conflict.
The city saw intense violence during the Russian siege, including Russias bombing of a theater that residents were using as a shelter from the fighting. The human rights group Amnesty International would later call the theater bombing a war crime.
Mariupol is also home to the Azovstal steel plant, where Ukrainian soldiers and civilians hid for weeks from Russian forces while refusing to surrender in a stand against the invading military that became known across the world.
On Sunday, the Russian state news agency Tass reported that Putin flew into Mariupol via helicopter before being driven and walking around the city. It was Putins first-ever visit to the Donbas region, which the Russian president illegally annexed in September.
"This trip seemed like a staged, managed event for Putin to highlight Russian efforts to rebuild Mariupol, which of course was destroyed by Russian forces in the battle for control of the city last year," NPRs Moscow correspondent Charles Maynes said on Weekend Edition Sunday.
"It also seemed a little bit of a response to President Bidens trip to Kyiv a month ago, given that this was Putins first trip to these newly occupied and, in theory, newly annexed territories since the start of the war," Maynes added.
Biden, in a surprise visit to the Ukrainian capital in February, met with Ukrainian leader Volodymyr Zelenskyy and reaffirmed the U.S. governments support for Ukraine.
According to Tass, Russian Deputy Prime Minister Marat Khusnullin told Putin that residents who fled Mariupol due to fighting there last year have been returning to the city.