The Ukrainian authorities of Mariupol, a port city under Russian control since May 2022, today denounced the visit of the Russian president Vladimir Putin whom they described as an “international criminal”.

“The international criminal Putin visited the occupied city of Mariupol” at night “probably not to see in the light of day the city that was killed by his +liberation+,” the City Council wrote on its Telegram account, referring to the international warrant arrest issued against Putin by the International Criminal Court.

For its part, the Ukrainian Defense Ministry announced that Putin visited the devastated Mariupol at night “like a thief”.

“As if he were a thief, Putin visited the Ukrainian city of Mariupol, taking refuge behind the night. First, it is safer. And also, the night allows him to emphasize what he wants to show and keep the city that the army it was completely destroyed and its few surviving residents are safe behind closed doors,” the ministry said on Twitter.

At the same time, a Ukrainian presidential adviser denounced the “cynicism” and “lack of remorse”.

“Criminals always return to the scene of their crimes…The murderer of thousands of Mariupol families came to admire the ruins of the city and its graves. Cynicism and lack of remorse,” Mihailo Podoliak tweeted.

Putin made a surprise visit to Mariupol after flying to Crimea on Saturday for an unannounced visit to mark the ninth anniversary of Russia’s annexation of the Ukrainian peninsula.

The capture of Mariupol in May, after one of the longest and deadliest battles of the war, was Russia’s first major victory since its failure to take Kiev.

Putin traveled by helicopter to Mariupol, Russian news agencies reported, citing the Kremlin. With his visit, Putin was closer to the front lines than at any other time since the beginning of the war. Driving a car himself, he went through various neighborhoods of the city and stopped to talk to residents.

Responding today to Kiev’s statements, the Kremlin announced that the Russian president decided at the last minute to visit the city and reiterated the “spontaneous” nature of the visit.