Putin’s Surprise Mariupol Visit
- Ukraine said that the deadline had been moved back 120 days. But Russia's help is needed, and Moscow has only agreed to keep the pact in place for another 60 days.
- Russia and the Ukraine are two of the biggest food exporters in the world, and Russia is also one of the biggest exporters of fertilisers.
Russian state news said on Sunday that Russian President Vladimir Putin toured the city of Mariupol. This would be Putin’s first trip to the Donbas region since the Ukraine conflict began in February of last year.
Tass news agency said that Putin took a helicopter to Mariupol and then drove a car around the city.
According to state-run media, he went to different places in Mariupol, talked to locals, and was given a report on the work being done to rebuild the city.
On Sunday, the state channel Rossiya 24 showed Putin talking with locals outside of what looked like a brand-new apartment complex and being shown around one of the apartments.
Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov said that after Putin’s trip to Mariupol, he met with Russian military leaders and troops at a command post in Rostov-on-Don, a city in southern Russia about 180 kilometres east of Mariupol.
Sunday, Russian Deputy Prime Minister Marat Khusnullin told the state news agency RIA that Russia was there to stay. He said that the government hoped to finish rebuilding the bombed-out downtown area by the end of the year.
“People have begun to come back. When people saw that rebuilding was going on, they started coming back “Khusnullin told RIA.
Saturday, in Ankara, the capital of Turkey, a deal allowing the safe export of Ukrainian grain through the Black Sea was extended for at least 60 days, which is half of the original length. Russia had said that any further extension past mid-May would depend on the lifting of some Western sanctions.
The pact was made with Russia and Ukraine by the UN and Turkey in July. In November, it was extended for another 120 days. Saturday was the last day of the deal.
Saturday, the UN and Turkey said that the agreement had been extended, but they didn’t say for how long.
Ukraine said that the deadline had been moved back 120 days. But Russia’s help is needed, and Moscow has only agreed to keep the pact in place for another 60 days.
In a statement, UN spokesman Stephane Dujarric said, “The Black Sea Grain Initiative and the memorandum of understanding on promoting Russian food products and fertilisers on world markets are important for food security around the world, especially in developing countries.”
Russia and the Ukraine are two of the biggest food exporters in the world, and Russia is also one of the biggest exporters of fertilisers.
Agriculture Minister Mykola Solsky said that Ukraine had given almost 500,000 metric tonnes of wheat to UN aid programmes. He also said on Saturday that the extension of the Black Sea export pact for 120 days was a chance to keep helping people in need and “save the world from hunger.”
In July, the UN also agreed to help Russia export food and fertiliser for the next three years.