Pro-Kremlin television host Vladimir Solovyov visited the besieged Ukrainian port city of Mariupol, he said in a YouTube broadcast Tuesday.
Solovyov was pictured at a metallurgical plant in Mariupol alongside Denis Pushilin, the head of the self-proclaimed Donetsk People's Republic (DNR). In the photo, the state television anchor can be seen dressed in military fatigues — without any signifiers that he’s part of the press — next to Pushilin, who is dressed in civilian clothes.
Footage published to Solovyov’s Telegram channel shows him meeting with a group of local residents.
“The main question they asked me,” he said, “was: ‘But you’re not going away, are you?’” he said on his Solovyov Live show on YouTube.
Meanwhile in the studio, Solovyov showed off a British NLAW anti-tank missile launcher that he claimed to have brought back from Mariupol.
Solovyov appeared in the studio the same day he announced he had arrived in Mariupol, sparking skepticism.
“How long was he there at the front, less than a day?” television presenter Ksenia Sobchak remarked.
Russian forces have bombarded Mariupol in a devastating two-month siege that its mayor Mayor Vadym Boichenko says has resulted in the deaths of 21,000 civilians.
The city's remaining Ukrainian defenders are currently making a last stand at their final holdout, the Azovstal steel plant.
Solovyov, who is described by critics as the Kremlin’s chief propagandist, fell under Western sanctions imposed following the invasion of Ukraine on Feb. 24.
Last month, Russia’s FSB said it had foiled an alleged attempt to assassinate the television host that it claims was organized by Ukraine's security services.