For the first time since the beginning of the Russian war of aggression against Ukraine, Kremlin chief Vladimir Putin has visited the occupied territories of the neighboring country. As the Kremlin announced, Putin had paid a “working visit” to the port city of Mariupol on the Azov Sea, which had been destroyed in heavy fighting.

After his arrival in a helicopter, he informed himself about the situation during a tour and also talked to residents of the city, the state agency Tass reported. Russia’s Deputy Prime Minister Marat Chusnullin informed Putin about the status of the reconstruction work.

On Saturday afternoon, Putin visited the Ukrainian peninsula of Crimea, which was annexed in 2014. State television broadcast images of the Kremlin chief opening an art school for children in Sevastopol.

Russia launched a war of aggression against Ukraine on February 24 last year. Mariupol was besieged by Russian troops and only came under full Russian military control on May 20. The city was largely destroyed during the fighting.