Putin's surprise visit to Ukraine

Putin made a surprise visit to the occupied Ukrainian territory.

Putin's surprise visit to Ukraine

Russian President Vladimir Putin made a surprise visit late on Saturday to the city of Mariupol in Ukraine's Donetsk region, which has been under Russian control since last May.

"The head of state inspected several objects of the city, and also talked with local residents," said a statement by the Kremlin on Sunday.

Putin flew to Mariupol by helicopter, it noted, adding that he later drive a car in the city accompanied by Deputy Prime Minister Marat Khusnullin, who reported "on the progress of construction and restoration work in the city and its surroundings."

"In particular, they discussed the construction of new residential microdistricts, social and educational facilities, housing and communal services infrastructure, and medical institutions," the statement said.

"In addition, Vladimir Putin held a meeting at the command post of the special military operation in Rostov-on-Don," the statement said, adding that Russian Chief of the General Staff Valery Gerasimov and a number of military leaders briefied the Russian president.

In a later statement, Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov told reporters that Putin's trip to the command post in Rostov-on-Don was not prepared in advance.

"As for the trip to the command post in Rostov-on-Don, it was not planned, it was not prepared in any way. The main goal is to look at the work of the command post in the usual mode," Peskov said.

He said Putin's visit to Mariupol residents was also unplanned.

Putin's visit to Mariupol is a first to the Russian-controlled regions of the Donbas since the start of the war between the two countries in February last year.

A day earlier, Putin had traveled to the city of Sevastopol in Crimea, on the occasion of the ninth anniversary of the peninsula's annexation by Moscow, a move widely viewed as illegal by the international community, including Türkiye and the UN General Assembly.