Russia, Ukraine war: Putin visits Crimea, facing arrest warrant

Russia annexed Crimea from Ukraine in 2014, a move that most of the world condemned as illegal.

KYIV, Ukraine — Russian President Vladimir Putin traveled to Crimea to mark the ninth anniversary of the annexation of the Black Sea peninsula from Ukraine on Saturday, a day after the International Criminal Court issued an arrest warrant for the leader. Russian religion accused him of committing war crimes.

Putin visited an art school and a children’s center as part of a project to develop a historic park on the site of an ancient Greek colony, Russian state news agencies said.

The ICC accused him on Friday of being personally responsible for the abduction of Ukrainian children during Russia’s all-out invasion of the neighboring country that began nearly 13 months ago.

Russia annexed Crimea from Ukraine in 2014, a move that most of the world condemned as illegal. Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy has demanded that Russia withdraw from the peninsula and the areas it occupied since last year.

Putin has shown no intention of giving up on Kremlin interests. Instead, he stressed Friday the importance of keeping Crimea.

“Clearly, security issues are now a top priority for Crimea and Sevastopol,” he said, referring to Crimea’s largest city. “We will do everything necessary to counter any threat.”

Putin boarded a plane to travel 1,132 miles from Moscow to Sevastopol, where he drove the car that took him around the city, according to Moscow Governor Mikhail Razvozhaev.

The ICC’s arrest warrant is the first to be issued against a leader of one of the five permanent members of the United Nations Security Council. The court based in The Hague, Netherlands, has also issued an arrest warrant for Maria Lvova-Belova, commissioner for the Rights of the Child at the Office of the President of the Russian Federation.

The move was immediately dismissed by Moscow – and welcomed by Ukraine as a major breakthrough. However, the possibility of Putin facing a trial at the ICC is very unlikely because Moscow does not recognize the jurisdiction of the court nor extradite its citizens.

Despite the court’s action and its implications for Putin, the United Nations and Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan announced on Saturday that a wartime agreement that would allow grain to flow from Ukraine to other countries would not be possible. Membership in Africa, the Middle East and Asia has been extended, although it is not clear how. long.

Ukraine’s Deputy Prime Minister Oleksandr Kubrakov tweeted that the agreement had been extended by 120 days, the length of time desired by Ukraine, Turkey and the United Nations. However, Russian Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Maria Zakharova told Russian news agency Tass that Moscow had agreed to an extension of 60 days.

Russia and Ukraine are both suppliers of wheat, barley, sunflower oil and other affordable food products on which developing nations depend. They signed separate agreements with the United Nations and Turkey last year to allow food to leave Ukraine’s blocked ports.

Russia has complained that its fertilizer shipments – which its deal is said to facilitate – are not reaching the global market. The country quickly withdrew from the agreement in November before rejoining and agreeing to a 120-day extension.

In Ukraine, authorities reported widespread Russian attacks from Friday night to Saturday morning. Writing on Telegram, the Ukrainian Air Force Command said 11 of the 16 drones had been shot down in attacks targeting the capital Kyiv and the western province of Lviv, among other regions.

The head of the Kyiv city government, Serhii Popko, said Ukrainian air defenses had shot down all drones heading towards the capital. Lviv Governor Maksym Kozytskyi on Saturday said three of the six drones had been shot down, with the remaining three crashing into a district bordering Poland.

According to the Ukrainian air force, the strikes were carried out from the east coast of the Sea of ​​Azov and Russia’s Bryansk province, which also borders Ukraine.

The Ukrainian military reported that from Friday morning to Saturday morning, Russian forces conducted 34 air strikes, one missile attack and 57 anti-aircraft salvoes. It said debris fell in the Kherson province of southern Ukraine, damaging seven houses and a kindergarten.

Russia is still focusing most of its offensive operations on the industrial zone in eastern Ukraine, focusing on attacks on Lyman, Bakhmut, Avdiivka, Marinka and Shakhtarsk in Ukraine’s eastern Donetsk province.

Regional Governor Pavlo Kyrylenko said one person was killed and three injured when 11 towns and villages in the province were shelled on Friday.

Further west, Russian missiles hit a residential area overnight in the city of Zaporizhzhia, the regional capital of the partially occupied province of the same name. Anatoliy Kurtev of Zaporizhzhia City Council said no casualties were reported, but houses were damaged.

British military officials said on Saturday that Russia is likely to expand its mandatory military service to supplement troops fighting in Ukraine. The British Ministry of Defense said in its latest analysis that delegates in the Russian Duma, the lower house of the Russian parliament, have introduced a bill to change the current age of conscription for men from 18-27 to 21-30.

The ministry said many Russian men aged 18-21 seek exemption from military service because they are enrolled in higher education institutions. A broader age means they will eventually have to serve. British officials say the law is likely to be passed and take effect in January 2024. Russia, Ukraine war: Putin visits Crimea, facing arrest warrant

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