Putin visits Mariupol

Matthew T Fox

On March 19th, 2023 , Vladimir Putin arrived to the occupied city of Mariupol in Ukraine. This is his first visit to Ukranian territory since the start of the war over a year ago. This visit could be interpreted in a variety of ways, on one hand it could be a gesture of defiance against an international court that issued a warrant for his arrested, just a day prior to his visit. It could also be an act of defiance, and a show of resolve, that Putin is legitimately committed to the occupation of Ukranian territories.


This is also in the wake of Xi Xingping’s visit to Moscow, although relations between China and Russia were rather poor during Soviet times, it seems that after the collapse, China has become a critical economic partner for Russia. This also may be interpreted as Chinese support for the war, however it is important to note that no official statement out of China been made of this. It’s also important to note that the white house has found no evidence that China has supplied Russia with any weapons, at least not after the start of the war in Ukraine. 


The city of Mariupol itself is a large city of about 406,000 people on the southeastern coast of Ukraine, it became a valuable target for Russian soldiers as it serves as a port, and would hypothetically allow for greater control of the naval corridors around the country. However, with this in mind Ukraine of course couldn’t let the city fall. The battle ended up stalling into a siege of the city, in which Russian troops surrounded the city and laid into it with artillery fire and gradual advances for about 3 months.


Ukranian resitance was pushed back deep into the city, where Ukranian forces held down the Azovstal steel mill. The steel mill was akin to a concrete jungle, this enviornment made it very difficult to actually locate Ukranian troops. However, Ukranian forces were forced to surrender on the 16th of May.


With this in mind, it’s estimated that roughly 95% of the city was destroyed during the siege, with the Ukranian government claiming that Russia targeted civillians. This has caused his visit to draw criticism as well, with Mykhailo Podolyak, chief staff of Ukranian president Volodmyrr Zelensky, claiming that “The criminal is always drawn to the crime scene”.