Russian President Vladimir Putin has made a shock go to to Mariupol, state media experiences, his first to town because it was captured after a prolonged siege at the beginning of Moscow’s offensive in Ukraine.

The journey comes after an arrest warrant was issued for Mr Putin by the Worldwide Felony Courtroom, over Russia’s alleged deportation of 1000’s of Ukrainian kids throughout the battle.

Russia besieged Mariupol at the beginning of its offensive final yr, destroying the Azovstal metal works, the final holdout of Ukrainian forces within the metropolis.

Based on state information company TASS, Mr Putin flew to Mariupol by helicopter yesterday 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.

Vladimir Putin visited an arts college within the Black Sea port metropolis of Sevastopol

Mr Putin’s cease in Mariupol comes after his shock go to to Crimea 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.

Mr Razvozhayev stated on the messaging app Telegram that Mr Putin had been anticipated to participate within the opening of a kids’s artwork college 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 recognised by Kyiv and the worldwide neighborhood.

Scenes from Mariupol in April 2022

Addressing the World Financial Discussion board in Switzerland in January, Ukraine’s President Volodymyr Zelensky stated he aimed to take again Crimea, although Moscow has refused to incorporate it in doable peace talks.

‘Void’ ICC warrant

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

Kyiv says greater than 16,000 Ukrainian kids have been deported to Russia for the reason that begin of the battle in February 2022, lots of them positioned in establishments and foster houses.

ICC prosecutor Karim Khan advised AFP that Mr Putin was now chargeable for arrest if he set foot in any of the courtroom’s greater than 120 member states.

The Worldwide Felony Courtroom relies in The Hague.

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 courtroom’s resolution got here forward of Chinese language chief Xi Jinping’s go to to Moscow tomorrow 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 criticised Beijing for failing to sentence Russia’s offensive, accusing it of offering Moscow with diplomatic cowl for its marketing campaign.

Grain deal prolonged

In Ankara, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan 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 have been blocked by Russian warships.

The deal agreed between Kyiv and Moscow was key to assuaging a world meals disaster

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 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 for the protected passage of exports, and had already been prolonged for 120 days in November.

Newest Ukraine information

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 4pm native time 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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