Putin visits Mariupol on his first journey to the fallen metropolis

Russian President Vladimir Putin made a shock go to to Mariupol, state media reported on Sunday, his first go to to the town because it was taken after a protracted siege early in Moscow’s offensive in Ukraine.

The journey comes after the Worldwide Felony Courtroom issued an arrest warrant for Putin over Russia’s alleged deportation of 1000’s of Ukrainian youngsters through the battle.

Russia besieged Mariupol early in its offensive final yr, destroying the Azovstal Metal Works, the final base of Ukrainian forces within the metropolis.

Because the state information company TASS introduced on Sunday, Putin flew to Mariupol by helicopter on Saturday and undertook a metropolis tour, typically by automotive.

He visited a number of places, spoke to native residents and acquired a report on the town’s reconstruction work.

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 Moscow-appointed governor Mikhail Razvozhayev.

Razvozhayev informed the messaging app Telegram that Putin ought to attend the opening of a youngsters’s artwork faculty by way of 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 individuals of Sevastopol,” he stated.

Russia annexed Crimea in 2014 after a referendum that was not acknowledged by Kyiv and the worldwide neighborhood.

Talking forward of the World Financial Discussion board in Switzerland in January, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy stated he needs Crimea retaken, regardless of Moscow’s refusal to incorporate it in potential peace talks.

ICC Arrest Warrant “void”.

Putin’s go to got here after the Worldwide Felony Courtroom on Friday issued an arrest warrant towards him for the “deportation” of Ukrainian youngsters.

In response to Kiev, greater than 16,000 Ukrainian youngsters have been deported to Russia for the reason that battle started in February 2022, a lot of them positioned in establishments and foster properties.

ICC Prosecutor Karim Khan informed AFP that Putin will now be arrested if he units foot in any of the greater than 120 member states of the courtroom.

The 70-year-old Russian chief has not commented publicly on the arrest warrant, however the Kremlin dismissed its validity as “void” as a result of Russia doesn’t acknowledge the jurisdiction of the ICC.

The Hague courtroom’s choice got here forward of Chinese language chief Xi Jinping’s go to to Moscow on Monday to signal offers touted as the beginning of a brand new period in relations.

China, a key Russian ally, has sought to place itself as a impartial get together within the Ukraine battle, urging Moscow and Kiev to start out negotiations.

However Western leaders have repeatedly criticized Beijing for not condemning Russia’s offensive, accusing it of offering Moscow with a diplomatic cowl for its marketing campaign.

Grain deal prolonged

In Ankara, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan stated the 2 sides had agreed to increase an settlement that had allowed Ukraine, a serious grain exporter, to renew exports after its Black Sea ports have been blocked by Russian warships had been.

Nevertheless, there have been variations of opinion in regards to the phrases.

Ukraine’s infrastructure minister stated the deal had been prolonged by 120 days, however a spokeswoman for Russia’s overseas ministry stated Moscow had agreed to a 60-day extension.

The deal brokered by Turkey and the United Nations in July 2022 had allowed the secure passage of exports and had already been prolonged by 120 days in November.

Preventing is now concentrated within the jap Donetsk area of Ukraine, notably the town of Bakhmut.

Russian assaults hit the close by city of Kramatorsk on Saturday, killing two individuals and wounding 10, stated regional governor Pavlo Kyrylenko, who accused Moscow of utilizing cluster bombs within the assault.

AFP journalists in Kramatorsk heard about 10 explosions virtually concurrently simply earlier than 16:00 native time (14:00 GMT) and noticed smoke billowing over a park within the southern a part of the town.

A girl died on the scene of her wounds, they noticed.