According to the exiled mayor of Mariupol, Putin was a "criminal" who had "returned to the scene of the crime." MIKHAIL METZEL/Getty Images.

Vladimir Putin, the president of Russia, made an unexpected trip to Mariupol, a Ukrainian port that was taken over by Russia after its troops destroyed most of it to the ground.

In an official video, Mr. Putin may be seen talking to people and driving through the streets at night. According to the Kremlin, it occurred late on Saturday.

He is believed to be visiting a recently seized Ukrainian area for the first time.

According to the exiled mayor of Mariupol, Mr. Putin was a "criminal" who had "returned to the scene of the crime."

"He has come in person to see what he has done," Vadym Boychenko said. "He's come to see what he will be punished for."

Other exiled Ukrainian city officials said Mr. Putin had visited at night so he would not see the destroyed city in daylight, BBC reported.

According to the Tass news agency, Putin took a helicopter to get to Mariupol. In the video, he is traveling with Marat Khusnullin, the deputy prime minister of Russia, who describes the reconstruction of the city.

The Kremlin has said the decision to drive around the city was made spontaneously by the Russian leader.

Putin also visits the city's Philharmonic Hall, which had been due to be used for trials of captured Ukrainian forces before they were released in a prisoner swap instead.

In Rostov-on-Don, a Russian city located just east of Mariupol, the Russian president is said to have met with senior military leaders.

Since it was completely destroyed in one of the bloodiest and longest battles of the war, Mariupol has been under Russian occupation for more than ten months.

According to Ukraine, around 20,000 people died there.

UN analysis estimates that 90% of the buildings were damaged and around 350,000 people were forced to leave, out of a pre-war population of about 500,000.

According to a group of residents who spoke to the BBC, Russia is running an expensive campaign to reconstruct the city and win over its residents' hearts and minds.

To integrate Mariupol and make it part of Russia is the goal. According to Russian authorities, 300,000 people now reside there.

During the conflict, Russia attacked a Mariupol theatre when hundreds of civilians were seeking refuge. At least 300 people are thought to have perished in the building fall.

The attack was a war crime, according to Ukraine and human rights organizations.

The United Nations has stated that it is one of the situations in which Mr. Putin and his government may be held legally liable.

The illegal transfer of Ukrainian children to Russia was a matter for which the International Criminal Court announced on Friday that it had issued a warrant for Mr. Putin's arrest.

It implies that he might now be detained if he enters any of the 123 states that make up the court.

In honor of the ninth anniversary of Russia's takeover of Crimea from Ukraine, Mr. Putin paid a surprise visit to the region on Saturday.

According to Russian official media, Putin paid visits to a brand-new school for the arts, a summer camp for kids, and upcoming cultural endeavors including the New Russia Museum and the Museum of Christianity.

The Kyiv government has pledged to free all Russian-occupied areas, including Crimea, which Russia annexed in 2014.

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