Vladimir Putin’s visit to Crimea comes as a surprise on the occasion of the ninth anniversary of the region’s annexation to Russia. The Russian president, expected via video link, instead showed up in person in Sevastopol to visit a new art school and a recently inaugurated children’s centre. The two buildings are just the beginning of what will become a city park dedicated to children.
The visit to a project dedicated to children may have been chosen by Putin as a response to charges of deporting minors from occupied areas of Ukraine to Russia. Accusation formulated by the International Criminal Court, for which an arrest warrant has been issued against the Russian president. Although Moscow believes it is not subject to the Court’s decisions, its chief prosecutor, Karim Khan, claims that Putin can be tried in the same way as the Nazi war criminals and former Yugoslav president Slobodan Milosevic were tried. “All of them were powerful individuals and yet they found themselves in courtrooms,” Khan stressed.
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Meanwhile, the extension of the wheat deal is at the center of the back and forth between Kiev and Moscow. Infrastructure Minister of Ukraine Oleksandr Kubrakov announces extension for 120 days. Extension, albeit without specifying the duration, also guaranteed by the Turkish president Erdogan, already mediator of the initial signing of the agreement that allows Ukraine to export its cereals safely through the Black Sea. Moscow reiterates, however, that the agreement is been extended for only 60 days and that the possibility of further extending the agreement will only come with the “promotion of Russian food and fertilizers on global markets”.
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From Bakhmut, where the clashes between Ukrainian troops and Russian troops continue, the leader of the group Wagner Prigozhin makes it known that he wants to recruit about 30,000 new fighters to be used in his battalion. Meanwhile, the United States has confirmed the use of Chinese ammunition by Russian soldiers, although it is not yet clear whether these were sent to Russia directly from Beijing or through intermediary countries.
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In Kiev, in a new wave of top-level government changes, Oleksandr Kamyshyn and Oksen Lisovoy were appointed respectively Minister of Strategic Industries and Minister of Education and Science. Meanwhile, Ukrainian President Zelensky approved new sanctions against 141 legal entities and 300 individuals. Among them also appears the Syrian president Bashar Al-Assad.