Putin Makes Surprise Trip to Mariupol

    Putin Makes Surprise Trip to Mariupol
    Last updated Mar 19, 2023
    Image credit: AP [via The Financial Times]


    • Russian Pres. Vladimir Putin made a "working visit" to the occupied Ukrainian city of Mariupol on Saturday night, following an unannounced trip to Crimea to mark the ninth anniversary of Russia's takeover of the Black Sea peninsula.[1]
    • Putin flew into the city by helicopter, before driving a car through the streets in darkness. The Russian president met locals and visited the home of a local resident, before being briefed on reconstruction work by deputy prime minister Marat Khusnullin, the Kremlin said in a statement Sunday.[2]
    • During the trip, Putin held a meeting at the command post of the special military operation and examined the coastline of Mariupol, visiting a yacht club and theater building. Putin's surprise visit to Mariupol comes a day after the International Criminal Court issued an arrest warrant against him for allegedly deporting Ukrainian children to Russia.[3]
    • Ukrainian MP Oleksii Honcharenko condemned the visit, calling Putin a "war criminal" who had "come to see with his own eyes the genocide he committed in Mariupol." Meanwhile, Ukraine's presidential advisor Mykhailo Podolyak said the "murderer of thousands of Mariupol families" had gone to "admire the ruins of the city and graves."[4]
    • Mariupol has been under direct Russian control since May 2022. According to the United Nations, Russian airstrikes damaged 90% of the city's buildings and forced about 350K residents to flee. Kyiv has claimed that unrelenting bombings have killed more than 20K people in the city.[5]
    • In other news, a deal allowing the export of Ukrainian grain over the Black Sea has been renewed, Turkish Pres. Recep Tayyip Erdogan said on Saturday. Russia said it had agreed to a 60-day extension, however, Ukraine asserted the deal – which had been set to expire on Saturday – had been extended for 120 days.[6]


    Anti-Russia narrative

    The timing of the Russian president's first visit to occupied Ukrainian territory — which comes just a day after he was accused by the International Criminal Court of presiding over the abduction of Ukrainian children — shows a lack of remorse. His forces not only bombed a maternity hospital and a regional theater sheltering civilians, deliberately reducing the symbol of Ukrainian resistance to ruins, his invasion has killed thousands and displaced millions in Ukraine.

    Pro-Russia narrative

    Putin's visit to Mariupol shows how far it has been developed since it was destroyed by retreating Ukrainian forces. Houses, bridges, hospitals, transport routes, and concert halls have all been rebuilt by Moscow's forces and, thanks to Russian efforts, residents have been actively returning to a functional city. Criticizing Putin's visit as an orchestrated stunt is a biased narrative being pushed to serve the West's interests.

    Nerd narrative

    There's a 1% chance that Russia will be removed from the UN Security Council by 2024, according to the Metaculus prediction community.

    Establishment split



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