Vladimir Putin’s visit to Crimea comes as a surprise on the occasion of the ninth anniversary of the region’s annexation to Russia. Instead, the Russian president, expected via video link, appeared in person in Sevastopol to visit a new technical school and a recently opened children’s center. The two buildings are just the beginning of what will become a city park for children.
Putin may have chosen to visit a project dedicated to children as a response to accusations of deporting minors from occupied regions of Ukraine to Russia. An accusation issued by the International Criminal Court, for which an arrest warrant was issued against the Russian president. Although Moscow believes it is not subject to court decisions, the chief prosecutor, Karim Khan, claims that Putin could be tried in the same way as Nazi war criminals and former Yugoslav President Slobodan Milosevic. “All of them were strong individuals and yet they found themselves in courtrooms,” Khan stressed.
Meanwhile, extending the wheat deal is at the heart of the back-and-forth between Kiev and Moscow. Ukraine’s Minister of Infrastructure Oleksandr Kubrakov announced the 120-day extension. The extension, though not specifying the duration, is also guaranteed by Turkish President Erdogan, who is already the mediator in the initial signing of the agreement allowing Ukraine to safely export its grain across the Black Sea. However, Moscow reiterates that the agreement has been extended for only 60 days and that the possibility of extending the agreement will only come with “promoting Russian food and fertilizers on world markets.”
From Bakhmut, where clashes between Ukrainian and Russian forces continue, Wagner Group leader Prigozhin announces that he wants to recruit about 30,000 new fighters for use in his battalion. Meanwhile, the United States confirmed the use of Chinese ammunition by Russian soldiers, although it is not yet clear whether it was sent to Russia directly from Beijing or through intermediary countries.
In Kiev, in a new wave of high-profile government changes, Oleksandr Kamyshin and Oksin Lesovoy were appointed Minister of Strategic Industries and Minister of Education and Science. Meanwhile, Ukrainian President Zelensky approved new sanctions against 141 legal entities and 300 individuals. They also include Syrian President Bashar al-Assad.
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