Russia unblocks grain exports for another 60 days
Russia will allow the export of Ukrainian grain from the Black Sea for another 60 days, warning that any further extension beyond then would depend on the removal of Western sanctions.
Russia blockaded Ukrainian ports for five months last year, causing major disruptions and global prices soaring.
But an initiative agreed in July with the help of the UN and Turkey has since enabled it to export 25 million tonnes of grain and edible oils.
The United Nations and Turkey said on Saturday that the deal had been extended, but did not specify for how long. Ukraine said it had been extended for 120 days. But Russia's cooperation is needed and Moscow only agreed to renew the pact for 60 days.
"The Black Sea Grain Initiative, alongside the Memorandum of Understanding on promoting Russian food products and fertilizers to the world markets, are critical for global food security, especially for developing countries," UN spokesman Stephane Dujarric said.
On Friday Russia's UN Ambassador, Vassily Nebenzia, said that the European Union, the United States and the UK now "have two months to exempt from their sanctions the entire chain of operations which accompany the Russian agricultural sector," if they want the Ukraine Black Sea grain deal to continue.
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President Putin made a rare last-minute trip to Crimea to visit a "children's palace" he commissioned, just a day after the International Criminal Court issued a warrant for his arrest over the mass abduction of Ukrainian kids
Roads were torn open and houses reduced to rubble after a Russian rocket attack in the city of on Friday
Joe Biden said the International Criminal Court's issuance of an arrest warrant for Russian President Vladimir Putin on accusations of a war crime for deporting Ukrainian children was "justified. "
Russia, China and Iran have completed three-way naval exercises in the Arabian Sea that included artillery fire at targets on the sea and in the air, the Russian defence ministry said on Saturday
Putin makes surprise visit to Crimea ‘children’s palace’
President Putin made a rare last-minute trip to Crimea to visit a "children's palace" he commissioned, just a day after the International Criminal Court issued a warrant for his arrest over the mass abduction of Ukrainian kids.
The visit was to mark the ninth anniversary of Russia's annexation of the peninsula from Ukraine, Russian state media reported.
However, it appeared to be a veiled response by Putin to the ICC after it accused him of war crimes for illegally deporting hundreds of children from Ukraine.
Putin drove himself to Crimea to open school
The Moscow-appointed governor of Sevastopol, Mikhail Razvozhayev, said Putin had been expected to take part in the opening of a children's art school by video link.
"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," he said.
Russia annexed Crimea from Ukraine in 2014 following a referendum that was not recognised by Kyiv and the international community.
'Russia extends grain deal for 60 days'
Russia has notified all parties to the Black Sea grain deal that the agreement has been extended for 60 days, the RBC media outlet quoted Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Maria Zakharova as saying 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 the extension was for 120 days.
Putin seen for the first time since ICC issues warrant for his arrest
Apparent footage of Putin's visit to the Korsun art school and children's centre in Crimea
It turns out Putin came to Crimea to open an art school.
At least that's what occupational authorities sY about his visit. And they report he drove there himself… pic.twitter.com/Namm0rOuyv
— Anton Gerashchenko (@Gerashchenko_en) March 18, 2023
Kyiv thanks UN, Turkey for 'sticking to' grain deal agreements
Ukraine's infrastructure minister on Saturday thanked the United Nations and Turkey for adhering to the agreements of a deal that allowed grain exports from war-torn Ukraine.
"[The] Black Sea Grain Initiative agreement is extended for 120 days. Grateful to Antonio Guterres, the United Nations, President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, Minister Hulusi Akar and all our partners for sticking to the agreements," Oleksandr Kubrakov said on Twitter.
Turkey's Erdogan says Black Sea Grain Deal extended
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, but he did not disclose how long the extension period was for.
"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.
Russia has previously called for renewing the deal for only 60 days, half the term of the previous renewal period, while Ukraine was insisting on a 120-day renewal.
Two Polish volunteers in attack on their bus, says government advisor
A Russian shell hit the bus of Polish volunteers who brought humanitarian aid in Chasiv Yar. Two volunteers were wounded.
One of them was evacuated to a Dnipro hospital by Life Saving Center.
Wishing both of them a full and speedy recovery. pic.twitter.com/Q24oVi3Xlb
— Anton Gerashchenko (@Gerashchenko_en) March 18, 2023
UK to help Kazakh exports bypass Russia, seeks critical minerals
Britain will help Kazakhstan develop export routes bypassing Russia, British Foreign Minister James Cleverly said on a visit to the Central Asian nation on Saturday, where he also signed a memorandum on supplies of critical minerals.
Mr Cleverly said London valued the position of Astana - which has traditionally been closely allied with Moscow - on the Ukrainian conflict. Kazakhstan has refused to support Russia's invasion or recognise its annexation of Ukrainian territories.
"The UK greatly appreciates Kazakhstan's consistent and principled position in supporting Ukraine's territorial integrity and your desire to bring about resolution to the war in line with the UN charter," he told a briefing.
Pictured: A Ukranian tank opens fire along the frontline south of Bakhmut
Russian strikes Zaporizhzhia on Friday
Roads were torn open and houses reduced to rubble after a Russian rocket attack in the city of on Friday.
No casualties were reported, but houses were damaged and a catering establishment destroyed, Anatoliy Kurtev of the Zaporizhzhia City Council said.
“[Russians] once again attacked the peaceful city. The S-300 missiles were aimed at the territory of one of the residential complexes,” said the Zaporizhzhia Regional Military Administrations.
The attack on the city was one of several widespread Russian attacks in Ukraine following the International Criminal Court’s decision to issue an arrest warrant for President Putin and Russia’s commissioner for children’s rights.
Sixteen Russian drones were deployed to attack Kyiv, western Lviv province and other regions on Friday, but 11 were shot down. Three hit a district bordering Poland while none reached the capital. According to the Ukrainian Air Force, the attacks were carried out from the eastern coast of the Sea of Azov and Russia’s Bryansk province, which borders Ukraine.
Mapped: Russian ground attacks along Kupyansk-Svatove-Kreminna on Friday
Western #Luhansk/Eastern #Kharkiv Oblast #Russian forces conducted limited ground attacks along the Kupyansk-Svatove-Kreminna line on March 17 but did not secure any confirmed territorial gains. https://t.co/BIwYpoZbsa pic.twitter.com/yJmAgXYadv
— ISW (@TheStudyofWar) March 18, 2023
The mother of 23 accused of being Vladimir Putin's child-snatcher in chief
Maria Lvova-Belova once boasted about adopting a Ukrainian boy from Mariupol, the city obliterated by Russian bombs, writes James Kilner
With her wavy blonde hair, Russian Orthodox priest husband and 23 children - including one from Mariupol - Maria Lvova-Belova is a Kremlin pin-up.
Her social media profile paints a picture of a woman in love with the concept of traditional Russia and is filled with photographs of herself staring into the camera with doe-eyed sincerity.
For Lent in February, Ms Lvova-Belova, 38, posed inside a Russian Orthodox church wearing a traditional headscarf.
Footage of the aftermath of a Russian missile strike on Zaporizhzhia
Last night Russia attacked Ukraine with 16 Shaheds from Bryansk and the Sea of Azov. Air defense shot down 11, including over Kyiv. 5 kamikaze drones hit Novomoskovsk and Yavoriv.
Zaporizhzhia was attacked with S-300 - on video. pic.twitter.com/3GxksePFEq
— Maria Avdeeva (@maria_avdv) March 18, 2023
Russian attacks continue in wake of Putin arrest warrant
Widespread Russian attacks continued in Ukraine following the International Criminal Court’s decision to issue an arrest warrant for 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. 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 the western Lviv province.
The head of the Kyiv city administration, Serhii Popko, said Ukrainian air defenses shot down all drones heading for the Ukrainian capital, while Lviv regional Gov. According to the Ukrainian Air Force, the attacks were carried out from the eastern coast of the Sea of Azov and Russia’s Bryansk province, which borders Ukraine.
Russian stand-up comic censored in Uzbekistan
A popular anti-Kremlin stand-up comedian had this week his microphone cut off during a show in Uzbekistan whenever he spoke about President Vladimir Putin and Ukraine.
Russian comedian Danila Poperechny, who has more than 1.6 million followers on Instagram, performed in the Uzbek capital Tashkent this week.
"When he performed they cut off his mic 15 times," a concert hall administrator told AFP on Friday, referring to the organisers of Poperechny's show.
Biden says ICC arrest warrant for Putin 'justified'
Joe Biden said the International Criminal Court's issuance of an arrest warrant for Russian President Vladimir Putin on accusations of a war crime for deporting Ukrainian children was "justified."
The move "makes a very strong point," the US president told reporters at the White House, while noting that the United States is not a member of the ICC.
Turkey still hopeful of extension to Ukraine grain deal
Turkey is hoping that a grain export deal between Kyiv and Moscow, key to alleviating a global food crisis, can be extended for another 120 days - but time is running out.
The current deal expires just before midnight on Saturday, Istanbul time.
"The deadline is approaching," Turkey's Defence Minister Hulusi Akar said on Friday.
"We are in touch with both Ukraine and Russia about extending the agreement under its original terms."
Russia's full-scale invasion of Ukraine saw Ukraine's Black Sea ports blocked by warships.