Facing arrest warrant, Russia’s Putin visits annexed Crimea
The court on Friday specifically accused him of taking personal responsibility for the kidnapping of children from Ukraine during Russia’s all-out invasion of the neighboring country about 13 months ago.
Russia annexed Crimea from Ukraine in 2014, a move deemed illegal by most of the world. Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskiy has called on Russia to withdraw from the peninsula as well as the territories it has occupied since last year.
Putin has shown no intention of backing down. Kremlin gains Instead, he stressed the importance of holding Crimea on Friday.
“Obviously, security issues are now a top priority for Crimea and Sevastopol,” he said, referring to Crimea’s largest city. “We will do everything we can to prevent any threat.”
Putin took a plane to travel 1,821 kilometers (1,132 mi) from Moscow to Sevastopol, where he took the wheel of a car that drove him around the city, according to Moscow-installed governor Mikhail Razozhaiev.
Along with the art school and children’s center, Putin also visited an archaeological site in the ruins of the ancient Greek city of Chersonesos, according to Russian state media.
This was the first ICC arrest warrant issued against a leader of the five permanent members of the UN Security Council. The court in The Hague, Netherlands, also issued an arrest warrant for the Commissioner for Children’s Rights in the Office of the President of the Russian Federation, Maria Levova-Belova.
The move was quickly rejected by Moscow – and hailed by Ukraine as a significant development. However, its practical implications may be limited as the chances of Putin facing trial at the ICC are slim as Moscow does not recognize the court’s jurisdiction or extradite its own nationals.
After the court’s announcement, widespread Russian attacks continued in Ukraine. The Ukrainian Air Force reported on Saturday morning that 16 Russian drones attacked Ukraine on Friday night.
Writing on Telegram, the air force command said 11 of the 16 drones were shot down “in the central, western and eastern regions”. Areas targeted include the capital Kyiv and the western province of Lviv.
Kyiv city administration chief Serhiy Popko said Ukraine’s air defenses had shot down all drones flying toward the Ukrainian capital, while Lviv regional governor Maxim Kozytskyi said on Saturday that three of the six drones had been shot down. Gone, the remaining three targeted one district. Adjacent to the Polish border.
According to the Ukrainian Air Force, the attacks were carried out from Russia’s Bryansk province on the eastern coast of the Sea of Azov and bordering Ukraine.
The Ukrainian military added in its regular update on Saturday morning that Russian forces had carried out 34 airstrikes, one missile attack and 57 rounds of anti-aircraft fire in the past 24 hours. A Facebook update said falling debris hit southern Khorsan province, damaging seven houses and a kindergarten.
According to the Ukrainian statement, Russia is still focused on offensive operations in Ukraine’s industrial east, focusing on attacks on Leman, Bakhmut, Ivodka, Marinka and Shakhtarsk in Ukraine’s eastern Donetsk province.
Regional Governor Pavlo Kirilenko said one person was killed and three were wounded in shelling on 11 towns and villages in the province on Friday.
Further west, Russian rockets hit a residential area overnight in the city of Zaporizhzhia, the regional capital of the partially occupied province of the same name. No casualties were reported, but houses were damaged.
British military officials said on Saturday that Russia is likely to widen the scope of recruitment to recruit its own troops fighting in Ukraine. In its latest intelligence update, the UK Ministry of Defense said deputies in the Russian Duma, the lower house of the Russian parliament, had tabled a bill to raise the age for men from the current 18-27 to 21-30.
Currently, many men aged 18-21 claim exemption from military service because they are enrolled in higher education institutions, the ministry said. The change would mean they would eventually still have to serve. The law is likely to be passed and come into force in January 2024, he said.
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