Putin marked the ninth anniversary of Crimea’s annexation with a trip there on Saturday, just one day after the International Criminal Court issued an arrest warrant for him in connection with the conflict in Ukraine.


Turkey has announced a new agreement that will allow Ukraine to continue exporting grain despite Russia’s offensive, but the length of this extension is a point of contention between Kiev and Moscow.

Besides driving across the bridge connecting the territory to mainland Russia in December, Putin’s surprise visit to Crimea was his first to the peninsula since he sent troops to Ukraine on February 24 last year.

Russian state television showed him touring the Black Sea port city of Sevastopol with the governor of the region, Mikhail Razvozhayev, who was also appointed by Moscow.
In a Telegram post, Razvozhayev revealed that Putin was supposed to make a video appearance at the opening of a children’s art school.

However, Vladimir Vladimirovich showed up in person. Himself. When you’re in the driver’s seat. He said it was because “the president is always with Sevastopol and the people of Sevastopol” on days like today.

Ukraine’s Crimean peninsula was annexed by Russia in 2014 after a referendum that was not recognized by Kyiv or the international community.

President Volodymyr Zelensky of Ukraine stated at the January Davos forum that Crimea was “our land” and that Ukraine would be reclaiming it. Russia has rejected including it in any peace talks.

Putin’s visit came after the International Criminal Court issued an arrest warrant for him the day before for the “deportation” of Ukrainian children.

Since the beginning of the conflict last year, more than 16,000 Ukrainian children, many of whom were placed in institutions and foster homes, have been deported to Russia, according to Kyiv.

Prosecutor Karim Khan told the AFP on Friday that Putin could be arrested in any of the more than 120 countries that are members of the International Criminal Court.
Russian President Putin, who is 70 years old, has not yet addressed the public about the warrant.

However, the Kremlin said that the warrant was invalid because the ICC lacked jurisdiction over Russia, a claim it said was “void.”

The ruling from the Hague-based court precedes Chinese leader Xi Jinping’s planned visit to Moscow next week to sign agreements ushering in a new era of ties. Starting Monday, Xi will spend two full days in Russia.

Although it is a close ally of Russia, China has taken a neutral stance in the conflict, calling on both Moscow and Kyiv to sit down and talk.

Western leaders, on the other hand, have been critical of Beijing for failing to condemn Russia’s offensive, claiming that by doing so, Beijing is providing diplomatic cover for Russia’s campaign.

The agreement that has allowed Ukraine, a major grain exporter, to resume shipments was extended, according to Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, who spoke in Ankara.

However, the terms were not agreed upon by all parties.
There were conflicting reports about the length of the extension: Ukraine’s minister of infrastructure said 120 days, while a spokeswoman for Russia’s foreign ministry said only 60.

Warships have been stationed in the Black Sea to prevent access to Ukraine since Russia sent in troops earlier this year.

A peace treaty between Kyiv and Moscow, brokered by Turkey and the United Nations in July 2022, had ensured the shipment of goods without incident. In November, it was prolonged for an additional 120 days.

The city of Bakhmut, located in the eastern Ukrainian region of Donbas, is ground zero for the conflict.

The mayor of nearby Kramatorsk claimed that two people were killed and eight were injured on Saturday as a result of Russian strikes on his city. He blamed cluster bombs being used by the Russian government.

Just before 4:00 p.m. local time (1400 GMT), AFP journalists in Kramatorsk heard approximately ten explosions go off nearly simultaneously and saw smoke above a park in the city’s s southern section.

They discovered a woman who had succumbed to her injuries at the scene.