Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyj has announced new sanctions of his country against Russia and its allies Iran and Syria. "The Ukrainian sanctions are part of the global pressure on Russia," the 45-year-old said in his daily video address on Saturday. 400 people and companies are affected by the measure, Zelenskyj said.
Meanwhile, Kremlin chief Vladimir Putin has been unimpressed by the latest punitive measures against him – the issuance of an arrest warrant by the International Criminal Court. On Saturday, the 70-year-old visited the Ukrainian territory, which had been occupied since the previous year, for the first time and drove through the destroyed port city of Mariupol. Shortly before, he used the ninth anniversary of the annexation of Crimea to make an appearance in the port city of Sevastopol, where the Russian Black Sea Fleet also has its base.
Syria is the starting point for Russia's war of aggression against Ukraine
In his video message, Zelenskyj blamed the passivity of the international community in Syria a few years ago, when Putin kept President Bashar al-Assad in power there with his bombs, for the beginning of the war in Ukraine. "The people of Syria have not received adequate international protection, and this has made the Kremlin and its accomplices feel that they are unpunished," Zelensky said.
"There is only one way to protect life – it is necessary to expel the Russian army from Ukrainian soil. And we will do it," Zelensky promised. In his weekly conclusion, he believed his country was on the right track. Ukraine has received a new armaments package with ammunition, artillery and fighter jets from the West. In addition, there had been negotiations with the US on further arms aid in a larger round, said the Ukrainian head of state.
For the first time since the beginning of Russia's war of aggression against Ukraine, Kremlin chief Vladimir Putin has visited the occupied territories of the neighboring country. As the Kremlin announced on Sunday night, Putin had paid a "working visit" to the port city of Mariupol on the Sea of Azov, which was destroyed in heavy fighting. After his arrival in a helicopter, he informed himself about the situation during a tour and also talked to residents of the city, the state agency Tass reported. Russia's Deputy Prime Minister Marat Khusnullin informed Putin about the status of the reconstruction work.
Shortly before, Putin had arrived on the Black Sea peninsula for an unannounced visit to the ninth anniversary of Russia's annexation of Crimea. "Our President Vladimir Vladimirovich Putin has what it takes to surprise," wrote the Moscow-appointed governor of the port city of Sevastopol, Mikhail Razvoshaev, on Saturday in his Telegram channel. State television broadcast pictures of the Kremlin chief at the opening of an art school for children in Sevastopol.
After his visits to Ukraine, Putin met in Rostov-on-Don with the commanders of the Russian military forces fighting in Ukraine. Among other things, Chief of General Staff Valery Gerasimov reported to him on the situation on the fronts.
Following the arrest warrant issued by the International Criminal Court against the Russian President, Chancellor Olaf Scholz stressed that no one is above the law. "The International Criminal Court is the right institution to investigate war crimes," Scholz said on Saturday at a press conference in Tokyo about the decision. He added, "And it's that no one is above law." The arrest warrant issued by the court in The Hague, the Netherlands, was issued for the abduction of children from occupied territories in Ukraine to Russia.
Grain agreement officially extended
Russia and Ukraine have agreed to extend the grain agreement. This was announced by Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan on Saturday. Without an agreement, the agreement would have expired on 19 March.
There is a dispute about the length of the agreement. While Ukrainian Infrastructure Minister Oleksandr Kubrakov tweeted that the agreement had been extended by 120 days, Moscow immediately denied it, stressing that it had only extended the deal by 60 days.
According to local authorities, at least two people were killed by Russian bombardment with cluster munitions in the eastern Ukrainian city of Kramatorsk. Eight other people were also injured, said the Ukrainian military governor of the Donetsk region, Pavlo Kyrylenko, on Saturday on his Telegram channel. Kramatorsk is located about 20 kilometers west of the front line in the Donetsk Oblast.
What will be important on Sunday
On Sunday, the extension of the grain agreement between Russia and Ukraine will enter into force. According to Moscow, this will allow Ukraine to export food via its Black Sea ports for another 60 days.
Outside this limited compromise, the positions of the two warring parties remain unchanged. Further battles are to be expected on Sunday, especially around the Bachmut area.