Putin tours Donbas for first time since start of war

Putin tours Donbas for first time since start of war

Russian President Vladimir Putin toured Mariupol on Sunday, Russian state media reported on Sunday, Russian President Vladimir Putin's first visit to the Russian-occupied territories of Ukraine's Donbas region since the start of the war.

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 issued an arrest warrant for the Russian leader.

Mariupol fell to Russia in May after one of the war's longest and bloodiest battles, Russia's first major victory after it failed to capture Kyiv and focused instead on southeastern Ukraine.

Russian new agencies reported that Putin flew by helicopter to Mariupol. It is the closest to the frontlines that Putin has been since the year-long war. Putin drove a car through several districts of the city, stopping and talking to residents.

After weeks of fighting, Mariupol was reduced to a smouldering shell. The Organization for Security and Cooperation and Europe OSCE said Russia's early bombing of a maternity hospital in Mariupol was a war crime.