The Russian President, Vladimir Putintraveled on Saturday to crimea to commemorate the ninth anniversary of the annexation of the Ukrainian peninsula bathed by the Black Sea, a day after the International Criminal Court issued an arrest warrant against the Russian president, whom he accuses of war crimes.
Russian state news agency RIA Novosti said Putin visited an art school and a children’s center, locations that appeared to have been chosen in response to the ICC action.
The International Criminal Court announced Friday that it has indicted Putin specifically because of his alleged involvement in the kidnapping of children in Ukraine during a large-scale invasion of the neighboring country by Russian troops that began nearly 13 months ago. Putin was charged along with Russia’s commissioner for children’s rights, Maria Alekseyevna Lvova-Belova.
Russia annexed Crimea in 2014, a move that most of the world denounced as illegal. Ukraine’s President Volodymyr Zelensky has demanded that Russia withdraw from the Ukrainian peninsula, as well as from areas it has occupied since last year.
Putin has shown no intention of giving up the gains made by the Kremlin. Instead, the Russian president stressed on Friday the importance of keeping Crimea in Russian hands.
“Obviously, security issues are top priority for Crimea and Sevastopol now.”, he said, referring to the largest city in Crimea. “We will do everything necessary to defend ourselves against any threat.”
Putin took a plane to travel the 1,821 kilometers (1,132 miles) from Moscow to Sevastopol, where he drove a car through the city, according to Moscow-installed Governor Mikhail Razvozhaev.
In addition to the art school and children’s center, Putin also visited the archaeological ruins of the ancient Greek city of Chersonesos, according to Russian state media.
The arrest warrant issued by the ICC is the first time the world court has issued a warrant against one of the leaders of one of the five permanent members of the United Nations Security Council.
Moscow rejected the move outright, while Ukraine hailed it as a breakthrough. However, its practical implications may be limited given that Putin’s chances of facing trial at the ICC are extremely unlikely. The Kremlin does not recognize the jurisdiction of the court or extradite its citizens.
Following the Court’s decision, Russia continued its widespread attacks in Ukraine. Ukraine was attacked by 16 Russian drones on Friday night, the Ukrainian Air Force reported on Saturday. In a message on Telegram, he explained that 11 of the drones were shot down. “in central, western and eastern regions”. Among the areas attacked were the capital, kyiv, and the western province of Lviv.
Kiev city administration head Serhii Popko said Ukrainian air defenses shot down all the drones heading there, while Lviv Governor Maksym Kozytskyi said on Saturday three out of six were shot down, and that the others reached a border district with Poland.
According to the Ukrainian Air Force, the attacks were carried out from the eastern coast of the Azov Sea and from the Russian province of Bryansk, on the border with Ukraine.
In its daily report, the Ukrainian military noted on Saturday morning that in the past 24 hours, Russian forces carried out 34 air strikes, one with missiles, and 57 rounds of anti-aircraft fire. The message, posted on Facebook, said the debris damaged seven homes and a kindergarten in the southern province of Kherson.
According to the Ukrainian statement, Russia continues to focus its efforts on its offensive operations in the east, the industrial heart of Ukraine, and focused its attacks on Lyman, Bakhmut, Avdiivka, Marinka and Shakhtarsk, in the Donetsk province.
The region’s governor, Pavlo Kyrylenko, reported the death of one person and noted that three others were wounded in shelling on 11 cities and towns on Friday.
Further west, Russian shells hit a residential area of the city of Zaporizhia, the capital of the Zaporizhia region partially occupied by Kremlin troops, on Friday night. No casualties were reported, but several homes and a catering establishment were damaged, said Anatoliy Kurtev of the city government.
For its part, the British military said on Saturday that Russia is likely to extend conscription. In its latest intelligence briefing, the Defense Ministry said deputies in the Duma, the lower house of Russia’s parliament, introduced a bill on Monday to change the conscription age for men between the ages of 21 and 30, from the age group between 18 and 27 years old.
The rule is likely to be approved and take effect in January 2024.
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