Russian President pays surprise visit to annexed port city of Mariupol

(VOVWORLD) -Russian President Vladimir Putin on Sunday paid a surprise visit to the port city of Mariupol, in the Donbass region, that Russia annexed last year.

The visit, the first by Putin to the Donbass region since the Russia-Ukraine conflict began in late February last year, followed his surprise visit to Crimea on Saturday  to mark the ninth anniversary of the Black Sea peninsula's annexation  to Russia.

He arrived in Mariupol by helicopter and then drove himself around the city's memorial sites, concert hall and coastline, and chatted with Mariupol residents to check on the progress of reconstruction efforts, new residential areas, social and educational facilities, housing, social services, and medical facilities.

Mariupol is an important port city for the import and export of grain and other agricultural products. It played a key role in Ukraine defense and drew international attention in the early stages of the Russian-Ukrainian conflict.

Last September, Russia announced the annexation of four Ukrainian regions, including the self-proclaimed Donetsk People's Republic of Donbass region in eastern Ukraine, where Mariupol is located.

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