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Putin visits Crimea as Ukraine grain deal extended | The Guardian Nigeria News – Nigeria & World News

Russian President Vladimir Putin visited Crimea on Saturday to mark the ninth anniversary of its annexation, one day after the International Criminal Court issued an arrest warrant against him over the Ukraine conflict.

Turkey announced an extension of the deal that would allow Ukraine to export grain following the Russian offensive, but Kiev and Moscow disagreed over the length of the extension.

Putin’s surprise visit to Crimea was his first since he sent troops to Ukraine on February 24, except when he drove across a bridge connecting the territory to mainland Russia in December. was the Crimean peninsula.

Russian state television showed him visiting the Black Sea port city of Sevastopol, accompanied by local Moscow-appointed governor Mikhail Razvodjayev.

Razvozhayev said on the messaging app Telegram that Putin was expected to participate in the opening of an art school for children via video link.

“But Vladimir Vladimirovich came in person. Himself. Behind the wheel. Because on such a historic day, the president will always be with Sevastopol and the people of Sevastopol.

Russia annexed Crimea from Ukraine in 2014 after a referendum that was rejected by Kiev and the international community.

At the Davos meeting in January, President Volodymyr Zelensky said Ukraine aimed to reclaim Crimea, “our land.” Moscow has refused to include it in possible peace talks.

– “Invalid” ICC Warrant –

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

According to Kiev, more than 16,000 Ukrainian children have been deported to Russia since the conflict began last year, many of them in institutions and foster care.

ICC prosecutor Karim Khan told AFP on Friday that Putin would be responsible for arrest if he set foot in any of the ICC’s more than 120 member states.

The 70-year-old Russian leader has yet to officially comment on the warrant.

However, the Kremlin denied the warrant’s legal validity, arguing that it was “invalid” because Russia does not have ICC jurisdiction.

The Hague-based court’s decision comes ahead of Chinese President Xi Jinping’s visit to Moscow next week to sign a deal that will usher in a new era in relations. Xi will stay in Russia from Monday to Wednesday.

China, Russia’s main ally, has sought to position itself as a neutral party, urging Russia and Kiev to settle their disputes through negotiations.

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