Putin visited Crimea for the first time since the start of the war with Ukraine

The Russian President, Vladimir Putin, traveled to Crimea on Saturdayon the anniversary of the annexation of that peninsula by Moscow in 2014 and the day after an international court ordered his capture for war crimes in Ukraine.

In Sevastopol, the home port of the Russian Black Sea Fleet, Putin attended the inauguration of a children’s art school together with the local governor, Mikhail Razvojayev, according to images from the Rossia-1 public television network.

The visit marked no pause in military operations in eastern Ukraine, where at least two people were killed in Russian shelling, according to Ukrainian sources.

This It is Putin’s first trip to Crimea since the start of the military offensive in Ukraine on February 24, 2022.which earned Russia severe international sanctions added to those already imposed by the 2014 annexation.

It is also Putin’s closest trip to the front line, as Sevastopol is just 240 km from Kherson, a southern Ukrainian city recaptured by Kiev’s army in November. His last visit to Crimea dated from November 2021.

Russia annexed Crimea on March 18, 2014, following a referendum not recognized by Ukraine or the international community.

“Our President Vladimir Vladimirovich Putin knows how to surprise. In the good sense of the word,” Razvojaev wrote on Telegram.

According to the governor, Putin was scheduled to participate by videoconference in the opening of the children’s art school.

“But Vladimir Vladimirovich came in person. Because on a historic day like today, he is always with Sevastopol and its inhabitants,” he said.

New bombardments

At least two people died and eight were injuredthree seriously, in bombardments with “cluster bombs” in Kramatorska city in the Donbas mining area (east), according to its mayor, Alexander Goncharenko.

“Russia continues to reign terror,” the mayor wrote on Facebook.

AFP journalists heard almost simultaneous explosions around 4:00 p.m. local time and saw smoke rising from a park in the south of the city.

Reporters attended the death of a woman as a result of the bombing of the park and saw a seriously injured taxi driver in the residential area.

Arrest warrant “null and void”

Ukrainian President Volodimir Zelensky reaffirmed Ukraine’s sovereignty over Crimea in January and its refusal to include it as a concession in any peace negotiations.

Putin made this trip the day after the International Criminal Court (ICC)based in The Hague, issued an arrest warrant against him for “illegal deportation” of Ukrainian children in areas occupied by Russia since February 2022.

Such acts fall under the list of “war crimes.”

Russiawhich is not part of the member countries of the ICC, considered that order “null and void”.

On Monday, the Chinese president will arrive in Russia. Xi Jinpingwho increasingly seeks to position his country as a mediator of international conflicts.

China, which refrained from criticizing the Russian military intervention in Ukraine, published a document in February that called for dialogue and respect for the territorial sovereignty of each country in that conflict.

He also introduced a Global Security Initiative (GSI), designed to “promote peace and sustainable development.”

In both cases, Westerners criticized the lack of concrete solutions.

“We have declared on several occasions that we are open to serious proposals from the West and Ukraine on a solution to the crisis through political-diplomatic means,” Russian diplomacy spokeswoman Maria Zakharova said on Saturday.

“But ultimatums are unacceptable,” he added, demanding the “lifting of all illegitimate sanctions and the annulment of all legal actions against Russia before international judicial bodies.”

cereal agreement

Turkey and the United Nations announced the prolongation of the agreement allowing to export Ukrainian cerealsnegotiated after the Russian invasion to alleviate the world food crisis.

Ukraine claimed that the extension was for 120 days, but Russia specified that it was only for 60.

The pact, sealed on July 22 with the mediation of Turkey, provides for automatic renewals for 120 days except in the event of objections by any of the parties.

Russia had already indicated on March 13 that this time it would only renew it for half of that period, alleging that a parallel agreement regarding exports of Russian fertilizers and agricultural products had not been respected.

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