Russian President Vladimir Putin has made a shock go to to Russian-occupied Ukraine’s Mariupol, state media reported Sunday.
The go to is his first to town because it was captured after a prolonged siege originally of Moscow’s invasion of 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 throughout the battle.
Russia besieged Mariupol firstly of its offensive final yr, destroying the Azovstal metal works, the final holdout of Ukrainian forces within the metropolis.
In response to the state information company TASS on Sunday, Putin flew to Mariupol by helicopter Saturday and took a tour of town, at occasions driving a automobile.
He visited a number of websites and spoke with residents, and was offered 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 stated 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 individuals of Sevastopol,” he stated.
Russia annexed Crimea in 2014 following a referendum that was not acknowledged by Kyiv and the worldwide neighborhood.
Addressing the World Financial Discussion board in Switzerland in January, Ukraine’s President Volodymyr Zelenskyy stated 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 Worldwide Legal Courtroom 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 courtroom’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 acknowledge the ICC’s jurisdiction.
The Hague-based courtroom’s choice 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 serious Russian ally, has sought to place itself as a impartial social gathering within the Ukraine battle, urging Moscow and Kyiv to open negotiations.
However Western leaders have repeatedly criticized Beijing for failing to sentence Russia’s offensive, accusing it of offering Moscow with diplomatic cowl for its marketing campaign.
Grain deal prolonged
In the meantime, within the Turkish capital Ankara, President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan stated the 2 sides had agreed to increase a deal that has allowed Ukraine, a serious grain exporter, to renew exports after its Black Sea ports had been blocked by Russian warships. However there was disagreement over the phrases.
Ukraine’s infrastructure minister stated the deal had been prolonged for 120 days, however a spokeswoman for Russia’s international ministry stated Moscow had agreed to a 60-day extension.
The deal brokered by Türkiye and the U.N. in July 2022 had allowed for the secure passage of exports and had already been prolonged for 120 days in November.
The preventing is now concentrated within the jap Donetsk area of Ukraine, significantly town of Bakhmut.
Russian strikes hit the close by metropolis 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 round 10 explosions go off practically concurrently simply earlier than 4 p.m. native time (2 p.m. GMT) and noticed smoke rise above a park within the southern a part of town.
A girl died on the scene from her wounds, they noticed.