Putin visited Crimea after a war crimes warrant was issued against him.
The Russian president arrived in Crimea to mark the anniversary of the peninsula’s 2014 annexation by Ukraine. Russian President Vladimir Putin has arrived in Crimea on an unannounced visit to mark the ninth anniversary of Russia’s annexation of the peninsula from Ukraine. Putin was greeted by the Russian installed governor of Sevastopol, Mikhail Razvozaev, on Saturday and taken to see a new children’s center and art school in what the official said was a surprise visit. “Our President Vladimir Vladimirovich Putin knows how to surprise. In a good way,” Razvozaev said on the messaging app Telegram. “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,” the Moscow-appointed official said. A day after the International Criminal Court (ICC) issued an arrest warrant against him and charged him with war crimes for illegally deporting hundreds of children from Ukraine, state media immediately But Putin did not broadcast any comments. Putin has not yet publicly commented on the warrant. A Kremlin spokesman called it “null and void” and said many of the issues raised by the ICC against Russia were “outrageous and unacceptable”. Russia annexed Crimea in 2014, eight years before a full-scale invasion of Ukraine. Ukraine says it will fight to oust Russia from Crimea and all other territories it has seized in the year-long war. Putin has shown no intention of giving up 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.” 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 Russian Commissioner for Children’s Rights, Maria Leva Belova. The move was immediately rejected by Moscow and hailed by Ukraine as a significant development. However, its practical implications may be limited as Putin is unlikely to face trial at the ICC. Moscow does not recognize the jurisdiction of the court and does not extradite its citizens. Putin faces arrest, however, if he travels abroad to an ICC member state.