Russian President Vladimir Putin made a surprise trip to a Ukrainian city Mariupol with a “working trip” – his first in the devastated Donbass – “to inspect some places in the city and communicate with residents,” TASS reports.

Mariupol has become one of the bloodiest scenes since the start of the Russian invasion of Ukraine.

As the Kremlin press service explained to the Russian news agency, the president would fly by helicopter, and drive through the streets of the city by car, making several stops at different places, reports Europa Press.

He then visited the city of Rostov-on-Don, located in southern Russia, near the border with Ukraine, to meet with the head of the Armed Forces, Valery Gerasimov, and various military leaders.

trip to Crimea

On Saturday, the Russian president was also surprised by the first visit to the Crimean peninsula in more than two years to mark the ninth anniversary of the peninsula’s annexation to Russia, in what Ukraine and its allies called an illegal annexation maneuver.

In early March, Russian Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu also paid an official visit to Mariupol to review infrastructure reconstruction work in the area.

The day before, the Russian president was in the Crimean peninsula for the ninth anniversary of its annexation by Russia in 2014.

Putin visited the Korsun art school and children’s center in Khersones, near the port of Sevastopol, the main base of Russia’s Black Sea Fleet.