Russian-Ukrainian War Live: Putin visits Mariupol on his first trip to occupied eastern Ukraine | Ukraine

Putin visits occupied Ukrainian city of Mariupol

Vladimir Putin paid a surprise visit to Mariupol, Russian state media reported on Sunday, during the Kremlin chief’s first trip to Russian-occupied territories in eastern Ukraine’s Donbass region, since the start of the war.

Reuters reported that the visit came after Putin traveled to Crimea on Saturday in an unannounced visit to mark the ninth anniversary of Russia’s annexation of the peninsula from Ukraine, and just two days after the International Criminal Court (ICC) has issued an arrest warrant against him.

Mariupol, which fell to Russia in May after one of the longest and bloodiest battles of the war, was Russia’s first major victory after it failed to seize Kiev and focused instead on southeastern Ukraine.

Putin flew to Mariupol by helicopter, Russian news agencies reported, citing the Kremlin. It’s the closest to the front lines Putin has been in the year-long war. Driving a car, Putin drove through several city districts of the Donetsk region, making stops and talking to locals.

Vladimir Putin, center, during his visit to Sevastopol, Crimea, on Saturday. Photography: EyePress News/Rex/Shutterstock

The Organization for Security and Cooperation and Europe have declared Russia’s early bombing of a maternity hospital in Mariupol a war crime.

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskiy made several trips to the battlefield to boost morale and discuss strategy, but Putin remained largely in Russia during the war.

Russian media reported on Sunday that Putin also met with the top command of his military operation in Ukraine, including Valery Gerasimov, chief of the General Staff.

Key events

Opening Summary

Hello and welcome to our continuing live coverage of Russia’s war in Ukraine. Here’s Adam Fulton with the latest developments.

Vladimir Putin visited Mariupol, Russian media reported on Sunday, on the Russian president’s first trip to Russian-occupied eastern Ukraine since the start of the war.

Putin flew to Mariupol by helicopter, the Tass news agency reported, then toured the city, sometimes driving a car and talking to locals.

Moscow forces captured the city last May after more than 80 days of shelling in one of the bloodiest battles of the war.

More on this story soon.

In further developments as the war reaches day 389:

  • Russian strikes killed two people and injured 10 in Kramatorsk on Saturday, the regional governor said, accusing Moscow of using cluster bombs in the attack on the eastern Ukrainian city. Pavlo Kyrylenko said a park was targeted and “a dozen residential buildings” damaged. Agence France-Presse reporters heard about 10 explosions go off almost simultaneously and said they saw a woman die at the scene from her injuries. Shortly after, another series of explosions was heard in a neighborhood 2 km away.

A woman next to a damaged car after the Kramatorsk bombings
A woman next to a damaged car after the Kramatorsk bombings. Photograph: Aris Messinis/AFP/Getty Images
  • Russia launched a series of attacks on Friday, according to the Ukrainian Armed Forces. Seven houses in Veletenske village in Kherson region were destroyed and a nursery was damaged on Friday, but no one was injured, he added. The update, which the Guardian has not verified, also says 10 Iranian-made Shahed drones were shot down and Ukrainian forces “repelled over 100 enemy attacks”.

  • Ukraine said some of the overnight drone attacks hit the relatively peaceful western region of Lviv. Dnipro was also targeted, as was kyiv, where air defenses shot down all attacking drones. The Ukrainian Air Force said 11 out of 16 drones were destroyed.

  • The Black Sea Grains Agreement has been renewed, according to the parties to the agreement. Turkey and the UN announced that the initiative was extended, but did not specify for how long. A spokesperson for the Russian Defense Ministry said it had informed the other parties that the agreement had been extended for 60 days, while a Ukrainian minister said the agreement had been extended for 120 days.

  • A further 880 Russian soldiers were reportedly killed on Friday, according to unverified totals released by the Ukrainian military. His general staff said that meant more than 164,000 Russian servicemen had been killed since the war broke out in February last year. Five other tanks, seven armored fighting vehicles and eight artillery systems were disabled by Ukrainian forces, he said in an update posted on Facebook.

  • The Russian mercenary group Wagner plans to recruit around 30,000 new fighters by mid-May, its founder said. In an audio message on Telegram on Saturday, Yevgeny Prigozhin said Wagner recruitment centers, which he said opened last week in 42 Russian cities, were hiring an average of 500 to 800 people a day.

  • Russia would likely introduce broader conscription to increase its military requirements, the UK Ministry of Defense said. In his latest intelligence update, he said Russian Duma deputies had introduced a bill to raise the conscription age for men from 18-27 to 21-30. The law would likely pass, he said, and come into force in January 2024.

Russian conscripts at a ceremony last year
Russian conscripts at a ceremony last year. Photograph: Alexander Ermoshenko/Reuters
  • Senior Ukrainian and US security officials met via video link on Saturday, with officials from Volodymyr Zelenskiy’s government asking for further helpincluding more gear, weapons and ammunition. Zelenskiy joined the call at the end of the meeting and discussed his forces’ hopes of retaking areas captured by Russia.

  • US President Joe Biden has said the International Criminal Court (ICC) arrest warrant for Russian leader Vladimir Putin is “justified”.. “But the question is – it’s not recognized internationally by us either,” Biden said, referring to the fact that the United States is not a member of the ICC. “But I think that makes a very strong point.”

  • German Chancellor Olaf Scholz also welcomed the ICC decisionstating: “The International Criminal Court is the right institution to investigate war crimes… The fact is that no one is above the law and that is what is becoming clear right now.

  • Russian President Vladimir Putin visited the annexed Crimean peninsula to mark nine years since Russia seized it. Russian news agency RIA Novosti said Putin visited an art school and a children’s center. These locations appear to have been chosen in response to the ICC’s arrest warrant, which accuses Putin of being responsible for the child abduction.

  • The Biden administration has quietly resumed deportations to Russiaan apparent reversal of the stance taken after Russia invaded Ukraine just over a year ago when those removals were suspended, the Guardian has learned

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