Vladimir Putin on tour in Mariupol. He visited the restored philharmonic hall, where the ‘show trials’ of Ukrainian soldiers captured in the siege of Azovstal and then exchanged for Russian soldiers were held. He went to the brand new houses, built by the Russians after they razed and took control of the port city overlooking the Sea of Azov. And he met the citizens, who took to the streets at night, to assure them that “everything will be fine” and that “we must start to get to know each other better”, because what happened was because of the “Nazis, they are Nazis. decent people don’t do these things.” It is the diary of the surprise visit, or ”working visit” as the Kremlin has defined it, which the Russian president conducted in Mariupol.
City symbol of Ukrainian resistance, which fell into Russian hands after a bloody siege. The Mariupol of the Azov battalion, barricaded to exhaustion together with part of the population in the Azovstal steelworks, in all about 2,600 soldiers and civilians. But also Mariupol with its children’s hospital and maternity ward bombed last March by the Russians and which now, as Deputy Prime Minister Marat Khusnullin promised alongside Putin, will be rebuilt and “will all have more modern laboratories and a ambulance”.
Also in March, Russia bombed the Mariupol theater where hundreds of people had taken refuge and where the word “children” was written on two sides of the building before it was hit. Now, the Russians are promising a new playground for the children of Mariupol, as Putin was able to ascertain by examining the documents for the reconstruction of the city.
All places that the Russian president visited ”partly spontaneously” as Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov explained. For what was his first visit to the eastern Donbass region since the start of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, Putin arrived by helicopter at Mariupol airport. Except then getting into a black jeep and driving it himself around the city districts, ”as you know the president loves driving, he does it often” said Peskov.
On the other hand, ”the trip to Mariupol was not completely planned”, on the contrary ”it was partly spontaneous”, as was the meeting with the inhabitants of the city which is Russia’s biggest booty in this war , conquered in May 2022. There were 450,000 people who lived in the city before the war.