On Sunday, state media reported that Russian President Vladimir Putin made a surprise visit to Mariupol, in his first visit to the city since its occupation after a long siege at the beginning of Moscow’s attack on Ukraine.
The trip comes after an arrest warrant was issued for Putin by the International Criminal Court Russia’s alleged deportation of thousands of Ukrainian children during the conflict.
Russia It besieged Mariupol at the start of its offensive last year, destroying the steelworks in Azovstal, the last stronghold of Ukrainian forces in the city.
According to the state news agency TASS on Sunday, Putin flew to Mariupol by helicopter on Saturday and toured the city, sometimes driving a car.
He visited several sites and talked with the people, and a report was presented on the city’s reconstruction work.
Putin’s stop in Mariupol follows his surprise visit to Crimea on Saturday to commemorate the ninth anniversary of the peninsula’s annexation.
Russian state television showed him visiting the Black Sea port city of Sevastopol, accompanied by Moscow-appointed local governor Mikhail Razvozayev.
Razovugayev said on the Telegram messaging app that Putin was expected to take part in the opening of an art school for children via a video link.
“But Vladimir Vladimirovich came himself. Behind the wheel. Because on such a historic day, the president is always with Sevastopol and the Sevastopol people,” he said.
Russia The annexation of Crimea in 2014 after a referendum was not recognized by Kiev and the international community.
Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky, addressing the World Economic Forum in Switzerland in January, said he aimed to recover Crimea, though Moscow refused to include it in potential peace talks.
ICC order ‘invalid’
Putin’s visit comes after the International Criminal Court issued an arrest warrant for him on Friday for the “deportation” of Ukrainian children.
Kiev says more than 16,000 Ukrainian children have been deported Russia Since the outbreak of the conflict in February 2022, many have been placed in institutions and care homes.
The ICC’s chief prosecutor, Karim Khan, told AFP that Putin was now responsible for arrest if he set foot in any of the court’s more than 120 member states.
The 70-year-old Russian leader has not publicly commented on the memo, but the Kremlin has since denied its validity and called it “invalid”. Russia It did not recognize the jurisdiction of the International Criminal Court.
The Hague-based court’s decision came ahead of Chinese leader Xi Jinping’s visit to Moscow on Monday to sign agreements described as heralding a new era in relations.
China, a major ally of Russia, has sought to position itself as a neutral party in the Ukraine conflict, urging Moscow and Kiev to start negotiations.
But Western leaders have repeatedly criticized Beijing for its failure to condemn Attack Russia, accusing it of providing diplomatic cover for Moscow’s campaign.
extending the grain deal
In Ankara, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan said the two sides had agreed to extend an agreement that would allow Ukraine, a major grain exporter, to resume exports after Russian warships closed its Black Sea ports.
But there was disagreement about the terms.
Ukraine’s infrastructure minister said the deal had been extended by 120 days, but a spokeswoman said The Russian Foreign Ministry said Moscow had agreed to a 60-day extension.
The deal brokered by Turkey and the United Nations in July 2022 allowed safe passage for exports, and was already extended by 120 days in November.
Fighting is now concentrated in Ukraine’s eastern Donetsk region, particularly the city of Bakhmut.
The region’s governor, Pavlo Kirilenko, who accused Moscow of using cluster bombs in the attack, said Russian strikes hit the nearby city of Kramatorsk on Saturday, killing two people and wounding 10.
AFP journalists in Kramatorsk heard about 10 explosions going off almost simultaneously just before 4:00 pm local time (14:00 GMT) and saw smoke billowing over a park in the southern part of the city.
They saw a woman who died at the scene of her injuries.
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