Putin’s trip to Donbass was ‘spontaneous’ – Kremlin

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The surprise visit by Russian President Vladimir Putin to the Donbass region was largely “spontaneous” and effectively turned into a full-fledged “working trip,” Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov revealed on Sunday. The trip was the first time Putin has visited Donbass since it broke away from Ukraine in 2014 and ended up being incorporated into Russia following referendums last year.

Putin made the unexpected visit to the city of Mariupol overnight, meeting locals and visiting their flats in a newly constructed residential building. The city was the scene of intense fighting early in the conflict between Russia and Ukraine and ended up being heavily damaged in the process.

“Initially, the plan was only to visit this residential complex, and, of course, neither meeting the citizens, nor paying them a visit [in their homes] was planned. It was all entirely spontaneous,” Peskov told reporters.

The visit turned into a “full-fledged working trip” for the president, Peskov continued, as Putin was briefed by Deputy PM Marat Khusnullin, who accompanied him during the visit, on the restoration process ongoing in the city. In particular, the Russian leader was told about “the development of the urban economy, roads, the restoration of destroyed buildings, how many people are working, how working conditions are provided, how building materials are delivered,” the spokesman explained.

After his Mariupol visit, Putin proceeded to the city of Rostov-on-Don, where he met with Russia’s top military brass at a command-and-control center in charge of the military operation in Ukraine.

The visit to the command post had not been planned in advance either, Peskov said, adding that the president’s arrival was not an issue given that the facility operates around the clock.

“Neither the presidential administration, nor the Ministry of Defense planned it in advance,” the spokesman stated. During the trip, Putin “heard reports” from a number of top military commanders, including from the chief of the General Staff Valery Gerasimov and also gave his own “assessments of the situation,” Peskov added.