- Putin visited a number of websites and spoke with residents, TASS mentioned.
- His go to to Crimea to mark ninth anniversary of its annexation.
- Russia besieged Mariupol at begin of its offensive final 12 months.
MOSCOW: Russian President Vladimir Putin made a shock go to to Mariupol, state media reported on Sunday, his first to town because it was captured after a prolonged siege in the beginning of Moscow’s offensive in Ukraine.
The journey comes after an arrest warrant was issued for Putin by the Worldwide Legal Courtroom (ICC), over Russia’s alleged deportation of 1000’s of Ukrainian youngsters through the battle.
Russia besieged Mariupol in the beginning of its offensive final 12 months, destroying the Azovstal metal works, the final holdout of Ukrainian forces within the metropolis.
In keeping with the state information company TASS on Sunday, Putin flew to Mariupol by helicopter on Saturday and took a tour of town, at occasions driving a automobile.
He visited a number of websites and spoke with residents, and was introduced with a report on the reconstruction work of town.
Putin’s cease in Mariupol comes after his shock go to to Crimea on Saturday to mark the ninth anniversary of the peninsula’s annexation.
Russian state TV confirmed him visiting the Black Sea port metropolis of Sevastopol, accompanied by the native Moscow-appointed governor Mikhail Razvozhayev.
Razvozhayev mentioned on the messaging app Telegram that Putin had been anticipated to participate within the opening of a youngsters’s artwork faculty by video hyperlink.
“However Vladimir Vladimirovich got here in particular person himself. Behind the wheel. As a result of on such a historic day, the president is all the time with Sevastopol and the folks of Sevastopol,” he mentioned.
Russia annexed Crimea in 2014 following a referendum that was not recognised by Kyiv and the worldwide group.
Addressing the World Financial Discussion board (WEF) in Switzerland in January, Ukraine’s President Volodymyr Zelensky mentioned he aimed to take again Crimea, although Moscow has refused to incorporate it in doable peace talks.
‘Void’ ICC warrant
Putin’s go to got here after the ICC issued an arrest warrant for him on Friday over the “deportation” of Ukrainian youngsters.
Kyiv says greater than 16,000 Ukrainian youngsters have been deported to Russia for the reason that begin of the battle in February 2022, a lot of them positioned in establishments and foster properties.
ICC prosecutor Karim Khan informed AFP that Putin was now chargeable for arrest if he set foot in any of the court docket’s greater than 120 member states.
The 70-year-old Russian chief has not commented publicly on the warrant, however the Kremlin dismissed its validity as “void” since Russia didn’t recognise the ICC’s jurisdiction.
The Hague-based court docket’s determination got here forward of Chinese language chief Xi Jinping’s go to to Moscow on Monday to signal accords touted as ushering in a brand new period of ties.
China, a significant Russian ally, has sought to place itself as a impartial occasion within the Ukraine battle, urging Moscow and Kyiv to open negotiations.
However Western leaders have repeatedly criticised Beijing for failing to sentence Russia’s offensive, accusing it of offering Moscow with diplomatic cowl for its marketing campaign.
Ukraine Russia grain deal prolonged
In Ankara, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan mentioned the 2 sides had agreed to increase a deal that has allowed Ukraine, a significant grain exporter, to renew exports after its Black Sea ports have been blocked by Russian warships. However there was disagreement over the phrases.
Ukraine’s infrastructure minister mentioned the deal had been prolonged for 120 days, however a spokeswoman for Russia’s overseas ministry mentioned Moscow had agreed to a 60-day extension.
The deal brokered by Turkey and the United Nations in July 2022 had allowed for the protected passage of exports and had already been prolonged for 120 days in November.
The preventing is now concentrated within the japanese Donetsk area of Ukraine, notably town of Bakhmut.
Russian strikes hit the close by metropolis of Kramatorsk on Saturday, killing two folks and wounding 10, mentioned regional governor Pavlo Kyrylenko, who accused Moscow of utilizing cluster bombs within the assault.
AFP journalists in Kramatorsk heard round 10 explosions go off almost concurrently simply earlier than 4:00 pm native time (1400 GMT) and noticed smoke rise above a park within the southern a part of town.
A lady died on the scene from her wounds, they noticed.
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