President Vladimir Putin visited the occupied eastern Ukrainian port city of Mariupol for the first time on March 18, Russian state media reported. Earlier in the day, he also made a surprise visit to Crimea, also occupied by Russia. On the same day, both Russia and Ukraine agreed to extend the Ukrainian grain export agreement again.
(Deutsche Welle Chinese website) When the Russo-Ukrainian war broke out last year, there was a siege around Mariupol that lasted for several weeks. In particular, the Azov Iron and Steel Plant in the city was once the last Ukrainian defense force. position.
According to the official TASS news agency, Putin arrived in Mariupol by helicopter on March 18, then changed to a car, inspected various locations in the city and talked with residents. Local officials also submitted an urban renewal report to him.
Earlier in the same day, Putin also made a surprise visit to the Crimea peninsula to commemorate the ninth anniversary of Russia’s “recovery”. Television footage from Russian state media showed Putin in the city of Sevastopol accompanied by Mayor Razvozayev. The latter said on the social platform Telegram: “On this historic day, the President is always with the city of Sevastopol and the people of Sevastopol.”
Russia annexed Ukraine’s Crimea peninsula in March 2014 in an illegal referendum. Neither Ukraine nor the vast majority of countries recognized the legitimacy of the referendum. At the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland at the beginning of this year, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky also stated that he must retake Crimea, although Russia has always refused to negotiate on the Crimea issue.
Russia, Ukraine agree to extend grain export deal
Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan announced on the same day that both Russia and Ukraine agreed to extend the Ukrainian grain export agreement. Merchant ships will continue to be able to load grain from Ukraine’s Black Sea ports. However, the two sides apparently still disagree on details: Ukraine’s infrastructure ministry said the agreement had been extended by 120 days, but Russia’s foreign ministry said Russia had agreed to a 60-day extension.
The agreement reached in June 2022 mediated by Turkey and the United Nations aims to ensure the safety of grain export channels in Ukraine, an important grain-producing country. The agreement has already been extended once in November 2022 for a period of 120 days.
At present, the battle lines between Russia and Ukraine are not on the coast of the Black Sea, but around the village of Bakhmut in Donetsk. Just on March 18, the Russian army airstrikes Kramatorsk, a city near Bakhmut, killing 2 people and injuring 10 others.
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