Russian President Vladimir Putin recently made a surprise visit to two occupied regions of Ukraine, according to state-owned news agencies. Video footage shown on state TV showed Putin visiting a command post in Rostov-on-Don and touring the war-torn city of Mariupol, which was captured by Russian forces and heavily damaged during the conflict. This marks Putin’s first visit to the Russian-occupied territories of Ukraine’s Donbas region since the conflict began .
The visit comes shortly after the International Criminal Court issued an arrest warrant for Putin on war crimes charges relating to his alleged role in the conflict . Putin’s visit to the occupied territories can be seen as an act of defiance in response to the arrest warrant, and it has drawn criticism from many countries.
Putin’s visit also follows a virtual summit with Ukrainian President Zelensky aimed at reducing tensions in the region, which occurred just a day prior to the surprise visit. During the virtual summit, the two leaders held talks for two hours via video link, with the aim of finding a peaceful resolution to the ongoing conflict .
The conflict in Ukraine began in 2014, when Russian forces annexed Crimea and later supported separatist rebels in eastern Ukraine. Since then, thousands of people have been killed in the conflict, and tensions between Russia and Ukraine have remained high. The recent escalation of violence has prompted concern from many countries, and the United Nations has called for an immediate ceasefire and a return to negotiations to find a peaceful resolution to the conflict .
Putin’s visit to the occupied territories is likely to exacerbate tensions between Russia and Ukraine, as well as between Russia and the international community. As the conflict continues, the situation in the region remains precarious, and it remains to be seen whether a peaceful resolution can be reached.