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Vladimir Putin visits occupied Ukrainian city just days after warrant issued for arrest

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Vladimir Putin has visited the occupied Ukrainian city of Mariupol just days after a warrant was issued for his arrest.

The Russian leader flew in by helicopter before touring the city by car, according to a statement from the Kremlin.

He was given a report by the Chief of the General Staff Valery Gerasimov and a number of military leaders during the 'working visit'.

Though no longer forming part of the front line of the conflict, Mariupol has witnessed some of the bloodiest moments of the war since fighting broke out last February.

Ukrainian authorities claim more than 20,000 people died in the city following heavy shelling by Russians, who occupied the settlement last May.


Thousands of Russian people have since moved in to the city, with many of them thought to be construction workers and members of the military.

The appearance in Mariupol comes after the International Criminal Court in The Hague issued arrest warrants for Putin and the Russian Commissioner for Children's Rights, Lvova-Belova on Friday.

Both warrants were related to the pair's involvement in the "unlawful deportation and unlawful transfer of Ukrainian children", it was announced on Friday.


Ukraine's Prosecutor General Andriy Kostin said "over 16,000 incidents" of forcible deportation of children to Russia are being investigated.

He added: "We fear the real numbers may be higher. Russia is literally tearing apart our future. We’ll do our utmost to bring children home & hold every perpetrator of the horrendous crimes accountable,"

Putin has made his first public appearance on Saturday since the warrant was issued, when he was seen walking with a prominent limp in annexed Crimea as he went to open a school and children's art centre.


The region, home to 2.4million people, was annexed by Putin's troops in 2014 in an illegal move.

A short clip published by Kremlin-run social media network VK showed the 70-year-old tyrant walking with his head bowed surrounded by aides as he attended the opening in the port city of Sevastopol.

Chinese President Xi Jingping is scheduled to arrive in Moscow next week for a crucial diplomatic meeting.

Beijing last month called for a cease-fire and peace talks between Kyiv and Moscow, but has shown some sympathy to Putin's aims in the legion after signing a “no-limits” friendship agreement last year.

The US said it would oppose any effort by China at the upcoming meeting to propose a ceasefire in Ukraine as the "ratification of Russian conquest."

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