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Putin Visits Occupied Crimea, a Day After Battle-Crimes Warrant

President Vladimir V. Putin made a shock go to to occupied Crimea to mark the ninth anniversary of Russia’s unlawful annexation of the peninsula, state media reported on Saturday, a defiant gesture simply in the future after a world court docket issued a warrant for his arrest.

Mr. Putin had been scheduled to take part in ceremonies in Crimea through video hyperlink, however as an alternative he traveled to the Black Sea port metropolis of Sevastopol, native officers mentioned. State media broadcast pictures of Mr. Putin, wearing a cardigan, visiting a kids’s artwork faculty and talking with Mikhail Razvozhaev, the governor of Sevastopol.

“On such a historic day, the president is all the time with Sevastopol and the folks of Sevastopol,” Mr. Razvozhaev wrote on the Telegram messaging app. “Our nation has an unimaginable chief.”

The go to signaled the Kremlin’s willpower to proceed with enterprise as normal, lower than 24 hours after the Worldwide Prison Court docket accused Mr. Putin of battle crimes and issued a warrant for his arrest. The court docket mentioned that he bore felony duty for the kidnapping and deportation of Ukrainian kids, hundreds of whom have been despatched to Russia since his full-scale invasion of Ukraine greater than a 12 months in the past. Russian officers dismissed the court docket’s announcement as meaningless and vowed to not cooperate.

The photographs of Mr. Putin strolling freely in Crimea — whose seizure by Russian troops in 2014 was a precursor to his full-scale invasion of Ukraine final February — and his resolution to go to a kids’s faculty illustrated how the warrant was unlikely to alter his conduct, even when it punctured the aura of impunity that has surrounded him.

However Russia — which is scheduled to obtain China’s chief, Xi Jinping, for a state go to starting on Monday — additionally agreed on Saturday to increase a deal permitting grain shipments to depart Ukraine, one of many few examples of cooperation between the combatants since Mr. Putin’s full-scale invasion of Ukraine.

The United Nations and President Recep Tayyip Erdogan of Turkey, who helped dealer the preliminary settlement, introduced the last-minute extension of the deal, which lets Ukrainian grain ships move by way of a Russian naval blockade within the Black Sea and has helped alleviate world meals shortages and restrict worth will increase.

Ukraine’s infrastructure minister, Oleksandr Kubrakov, mentioned on Twitter that the settlement had been prolonged for 120 days, and thanked the United Nations and Turkey for mediating.

The grain deal had been set to run out afterward Saturday, and earlier within the week Russia had mentioned it will comply with an extension of solely 60 days as a result of its personal meals and fertilizer exports had been being hampered by sanctions. Ukraine, Turkey and the United Nations pushed for a 120-day renewal, in keeping with the preliminary settlement in July and with a subsequent extension in November.

The deal permits ships carrying grain and fertilizer from Ukraine secure passage to Turkish waters, the place they’re inspected by a joint staff of Turkish, U.N., Ukrainian and Russian officers.

“This settlement, which has supplied the cargo of 25 million tons of grain to the world markets with greater than 800 ships so far, is of important significance for the steadiness of the worldwide meals provide,” Mr. Erdogan mentioned on nationwide tv.

Although the settlement was a uncommon diplomatic breakthrough between Ukraine and Russia because the battle started, Moscow has held the deal hostage at varied factors. In late October, the Kremlin abruptly suspended its participation after an assault on its warships within the port of Sevastopol, however it rejoined a number of days later.

Ukraine is a number one exporter of wheat, barley, corn and sunflower, however its shipments plummeted after the battle started. Exports from Russia, one other main provider, fell as nicely.

Talks on extending the deal started Monday in Geneva. Settlement on the earlier extension, in November, was reached with days to spare.

The grain travels by way of the Black Sea, the place Russia’s highly effective naval fleet runs up towards three members of NATO — Turkey, Romania and Bulgaria — that share the coast. This week, an American surveillance drone was introduced down within the sea after being struck by a Russian fighter jet, U.S. officers mentioned. That was the primary recognized bodily contact between the Russian and American militaries because the battle started.

In current months, Russian warships within the Black Sea have fired cruise missiles at Ukrainian targets which might be typically tons of of miles away, hitting cities and cities and damaging the nation’s vitality infrastructure.

On Monday, Mr. Putin is scheduled to host Mr. Xi, China’s prime chief, in Russia for the beginning of a state go to. The journey by Mr. Xi, whose authorities has not commented on the I.C.C. warrant, highlights how Russia has maintained relationships with highly effective allies which have cushioned the impact of Western diplomatic isolation and sanctions.

American officers say that China to this point has shunned supplying Russia with navy help to be used in Ukraine. President Biden has emphasised to Mr. Xi that any such transfer would have “critical penalties” for the U.S.-China relationship, U.S. officers say.

Prime U.S. navy officers held a telephone name on Friday with Ukrainian leaders together with President Volodymyr Zelensky, who supplied “an replace on battlefield circumstances and expressed appreciation for the continued provision of U.S. safety help,” in line with a White Home abstract of the decision.

On Saturday, Mr. Putin additionally issued extra draconian penalties meant to silence battle critics in Russia, signing a legislation that criminalizes talking out towards anybody preventing in Ukraine, together with volunteers and others “facilitating the Russian Armed Forces’ missions.” The brand new legislation goals to forestall criticism of fighters, together with these from the Wagner personal navy firm, which has been on the forefront of Russia’s bloody, monthslong effort to seize the japanese Ukrainian metropolis of Bakhmut.

The transfer got here as Yevgeny V. Prigozhin, the founding father of Wagner, mentioned on the Telegram messaging app that his group deliberate to enroll about 30,000 new fighters by mid-Might, from recruitment facilities established in dozens of cities. Mr. Prigozhin, who had beforehand urged that Wagner would possibly wind down fight operations, gave no proof to assist his declare, which got here after weeks of complaints that Russia’s Protection Ministry was denying his group essential assist, together with ammunition.

Ivan Nechepurenko and Nick Cumming-Bruce contributed reporting.



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