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A day after arrest warrant, Putin visits Crimea, drives around in Mariupol

The President also met with the top command of his military operation in Ukraine

Crimea Russia Putin Anniversary Russian President Vladimir Putin, right, and Governor of Sevastopol Mikhail Razvozhayev visit the Children's Art and Aesthetic center in Sevastopol, Crimea | AP

Russian President Vladimir Putin was seen arriving in Crimea on Saturday to mark the ninth anniversary of Russia's annexation of the peninsula from Ukraine, a day after the International Criminal Court said it has issued an arrest warrant for the Russian President for war crimes.

The President, who was on an unannounced visit, was greeted by the Russian-installed governor of Sevastopol, Mikhail Razvozhayev. He also visited a new children's centre and art school, reported Reuters. 

The Russian state media did not give broadcast any remarks from Putin. However, Razvozhayev went on Telegram to talk about Putin's visit. "Our President Vladimir Vladimirovich Putin knows how to surprise. In a good way,” Razvozhayev said on the messaging app Telegram.

"But Vladimir Vladimirovich came in person. Himself. Behind the wheel. Because on such a historic day, the president is always with Sevastopol and the people of Sevastopol," the Moscow-appointed official said.

Though Putin has yet to comment publicly on the warrant, the Kremlin spokesman has called it "null and void" and said Russia finds the very issues raised by the ICC to be "outrageous and unacceptable."

Meanwhile, Putin also reportedly visited Mariupol, Russian media reported on Sunday. According to TASS agency, Putin flew to Mariupol, a Ukrainian city in the Donetsk region which has been

occupied by Moscow forces since May of last year, by helicopter. He also drove a car around several districts of the city, making stops and talking to residents.

There are also reports that Putin met with the top command of his military operation in Ukraine, state media reported on Sunday, including Chief of the General Staff Valery Gerasimov who is in charge of Moscow's war in Ukraine.The meeting reportedly took place at the Rostov-on-Don command post in Southern Russia.

Meanwhile, a deal allowing the safe Black Sea export of Ukrainian grain was renewed on Saturday for 60 days. This comes as Russia warned that any further extension beyond mid-May would depend on the removal of some Western sanctions. 

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