Ukraine-Russia war – live: Vladimir Putin makes surprise trip to Crimea as arrest warrant issued

Vladimir Putin marks ninth anniversary of Black Sea territory’s annexation

Arrest warrant issued for Vladimir Putin over ‘war crimes’ in Ukraine

For free real time breaking news alerts sent straight to your inbox sign up to our breaking news emails

Sign up to our free breaking news emails

Russian president Vladimir Putin has made a surprise last-minute trip to a children’s centre in Crimea on the anniversary of the Kremlin’s annexation of the region.

Mr Putin visited an art school and a children’s centre on Saturday, a day after the International Criminal Court issued an arrest warrant for the Russian leader, accusing him of war crimes.

The court specifically accused him on Friday of bearing personal responsibility for the abduction of children from Ukraine during Russia’s full-scale invasion of the country, which started almost 13 months ago.

Responding to the ICC move, US president Joe Biden said Mr Putin had “clearly committed war crimes.” He added: “I think it’s justified. But the question is – it’s not recognised internationally by us either. But I think it makes a very strong point.”

Kremlin spokesperson Dmitry Peskov said Russia does not recognise the ICC and regards its decisions “legally void”. Russia annexed Crimea from Ukraine in 2014, a move that most of the world considered illegal.

1679152174

Putin visits art school in Crimea

Russian President Vladimir Putin has travelled to Crimea to mark the ninth anniversary of the Black Sea peninsula’s annexation from Ukraine.

Mr Putin visited an art school and a children’s centre on Saturday, the day after the International Criminal Court issued an arrest warrant for the Russian leader, accusing him of war crimes.

The court specifically accused him on Friday of bearing personal responsibility for the abduction of children from Ukraine during Russia’s full-scale invasion of the country, which started almost 13 months ago.

Russia annexed Crimea from Ukraine in 2014, a move that most of the world considered illegal.

Matt Mathers18 March 2023 15:09

1679168710

Putin and Xi might have a bromance but it’s clear who holds the power

Vladimir Putin and Xi Jinping have met around 40 times since China’s leader assumed the presidency in 2012. In many ways, the camaraderie between the pair has come to define the diplomatic relations between Moscow and Beijing across the last decade (Chris Stevenson writes).

Xi made Moscow his first overseas visit as president in 2013 and this latest visit comes next week in the wake of him being handed an unprecedented third term as president. During that time, the greetings between Xi and Putin have evolved from “dear president” to “dear friend” and later to “my old friend”. Last year, just a few weeks before Moscow’s forces invaded Ukraine the leaders met and announced a “no limits” partnership between their two nations.

Historically, relations between China and Russia have been fraught with distrust and confrontation, particularly at the height of their Cold War schism in the late 1960s, but Putin and Xi have changed the dynamic. On his last visit to Moscow, in 2019, Xi spoke of his “deep personal friendship” with his Russian counterpart. “In the past six years, we have met nearly 30 times. Russia is the country that I have visited the most times, and President Putin is my best friend and colleague,” Xi said. Both leaders share an objective of altering the world order, and they will continue to pursue that.

Liam James18 March 2023 19:45

1679166010

Biden says Putin has ‘clearly committed war crimes’ and ICC charges are justified

US president Joe Biden said on Friday his Russian counterpart Vladimir Putin “clearly committed” war crimes during the course of Moscow’s full-scale invasion of Ukraine since the conflict erupted in the former Soviet nation in February last year.

“He’s clearly committed war crimes,” the US president said on Friday referring to the Russian leader.

Speaking on the arrest warrant for Mr Putin issued by the International Criminal Court (ICC) on Friday, Mr Biden said: “Well, I think it’s justified. But the question is – it is not recognised internationally by us either. But I think it makes a very strong point.”

The US is not a member country of the global court.

Liam James18 March 2023 19:00

1679163905

Pope promotes ‘humanitarian corridors’ for migrants

Pope Francis met today with thousands of refugees and the charity groups helping them as he sought to promote legal migration routes to Europe as an alternative to smuggling operations that he said have turned the Mediterranean Sea into a “cemetery.”

Francis said “humanitarian corridors,” which have operated in Italy since 2016, saved lives and helped newly arrived migrants get acclimated while church groups provided housing, education and work opportunities.

“Humanitarian corridors not only aim to bring refugees to Italy and other European countries, rescuing them from situations of uncertainty, danger and endless waiting; they also work toward integration,” he said.

The Sant’Egidio Catholic charity, the Federation of Evangelical Churches and the Waldensian Church spearheaded the ecumenical humanitarian transfer initiative in Italy, which has brought more than 6,000 people to Europe, Francis was told.

Families from Syria, Afghanistan, Rwanda and Ukraine were in the Vatican auditorium to meet with the pope.

Pope Francis meets families during an audience for refugee families that came to Italy through the humanitarian corridors, in the Paul VI Hall at the Vatican

” height=”2048″ i-amphtml-layout=”responsive” layout=”responsive” src=”https://static.independent.co.uk/2023/03/18/18/SEI148804080.jpg” width=”3072″>

Pope Francis meets families during an audience for refugee families that came to Italy through the humanitarian corridors, in the Paul VI Hall at the Vatican

(EPA)

Liam James18 March 2023 18:25

1679161511

Who are the Wagner mercenaries and why are they so involved in Ukraine?

As the Russia-affiliated Wagner group embarks on a mass recruitment drive, get up to speed on the band of mercenaries led by Vladimir Putin’s former caterer:

Liam James18 March 2023 17:45

1679159711

Russia confirms grain deal extension

Russia has notified all parties to the Black Sea grain deal that the agreement has been extended for 60 days and reiterated it would not consider another extension until its concerns have been addressed, Moscow said on Saturday.

Earlier, Turkey and the United Nations said the deal had been extended but did not say for how long. A Ukrainian government minister said it would last 120 days.

Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Maria Zakharova posted a copy of a letter from Russia’s permanent representation to the United Nations saying Moscow would not object to the deal being extended by 60 days to 18 May.

“Consideration by the Russian side of a further extension of the (deal) after the indicated date will only be possible subject to tangible progress” being made on the question of exporting Russian food and fertilizer, it said.

Russia says that although these exports have not been explicitly targeted by the West, sanctions on its payments, logistics and insurance industries are creating barriers

Russia’s deputy foreign minister Sergei Vershinin, left, leaves the UN building after talks on the Black Sea grain deal, at the European headquarters of the United Nations in Geneva

” height=”3149″ i-amphtml-layout=”responsive” layout=”responsive” src=”https://static.independent.co.uk/2023/03/18/16/SEI148169248.jpg” width=”4724″>

Russia’s deputy foreign minister Sergei Vershinin, left, leaves the UN building after talks on the Black Sea grain deal, at the European headquarters of the United Nations in Geneva

(AP)

Liam James18 March 2023 17:15

1679157935

Explained: How a warrant for Putin puts new spin on Xi visit to Russia

Chinese President Xi Jinping’s plans to meet with Russian President Vladimir Putin in Moscow next week highlighted China’s aspirations for a greater role on the world stage.

But they also revealed the perils of global diplomacy: Hours after Friday’s announcement of the trip, an international arrest warrant was issued for Putin on war crimes charges, taking at least some wind out of the sails of China’s big reveal.

Matthew Lee reports:

Matt Mathers18 March 2023 16:45

1679156135

ICYMI: Biden says Putin has ‘clearly committed war crimes’ and ICC charges are justified

US president Joe Biden said on Friday his Russian counterpart Vladimir Putin “clearly committed” war crimes during the course of Moscow’s full-scale invasion of Ukraine since the conflict erupted in the former Soviet nation in February last year.

“He’s clearly committed war crimes,” the US president said on Friday referring to the Russian leader.

Arpan Rai has more below:

Matt Mathers18 March 2023 16:15

1679153540

Russian attacks continue as arrested warrant issue for Putin

Widespread Russian attacks continued in Ukraine, following the International Criminal Court’s decision to issue an arrest warrant for Russian President Vladimir Putin and Russia’s commissioner for children’s rights.

Ukraine was attacked by 16 Russian drones on Friday night, the Ukrainian Air Force said in the early hours of Saturday.

Writing on Telegram, the air force command said that 11 out of 16 drones were shot down “in the central, western and eastern regions”.

Among areas targeted were the capital, Kyiv, and western Lviv province.

The head of the Kyiv city administration, Serhii Popko, said Ukrainian air defences shot down all drones heading for the Ukrainian capital, while Lviv regional governor Maksym Kozytskyi said on Saturday that three of six drones were shot down, with the other three hitting a district bordering Poland.

Matt Mathers18 March 2023 15:32

1679150068

Black Sea grains export deal renewed

A deal allowing the export of Ukrainian grain from Black Sea ports that was due to expire on Saturday has been renewed, Turkey’s President Tayyip Erdogan said, while a Ukrainian government minister said the extension had been agreed for 120 days.

“The deal for the grain corridor was due to expire today. As a result of our talks with the two sides, we have secured an extension to this deal,” Mr Erdogan said in a speech in the western city of Canakkale, without specifying the length of the agreed extension.

Ukrainian Infrastructure Minister Oleksandr Kubrakov said the deal had been extended for 120 days.

The pact was brokered with Russia and Ukraine by the United Nations and Turkey in July – and renewed for a further 120 days in November – to combat a global food crisis that was fueled in part by Russia’s Feb. 24, 2022, invasion of Ukraine and Black Sea blockade.

Turkey’s President Tayyip Erdogan (r)

” height=”2778″ i-amphtml-layout=”responsive” layout=”responsive” src=”https://static.independent.co.uk/2023/03/17/14/Turkey_Finland_69790.jpg” width=”4167″>

Turkey’s President Tayyip Erdogan (r)

(Copyright 2023 The Associated Press. All rights reserved.)

Matt Mathers18 March 2023 14:34