Putin sends a strong message to the West after the arrest warrant issued against him by making a historical visit to Crimea
The Russian President Vladimir Putin on Saturday visited Crimea on the ninth anniversary of the annexation of the Ukrainian peninsula, in a surprise gesture a day after the criminal court issued an arrest warrant against him for a war crime.
This is Putin’s first visit to Crimea since the start of the Russian military operation of Ukraine on February 24, 2022, which led to the imposition of strict international sanctions on Russia that were added to the sanctions imposed on it mainly for the annexation of Crimea in 2014.
Putin arrived in Sevastopol, the main port of Russia’s Black Sea Fleet in Crimea, where he attended the inauguration ceremony of a children’s art school accompanied by local governor Mikhail Razvogayev, according to images broadcast by public television channel Rossiya-1.
Sevastopol is located about 240 km from Kherson in southern Ukraine, which was recaptured by Kiev forces in November after the withdrawal of Russian forces from it, making it Putin’s first visit to a location so close to the front line.
Putin’s last visit to Crimea dates back to November 2021.
Russia annexed Crimea on March 18, 2014, following a referendum that wasn’t recognized by Kiev or the international community.
The Ukrainian President Vlodomir Zelensky confirmed in January that he intends to recover Crimea, “our land” with weapons, while Moscow hesitates that “Crimea is Russian,” refusing to be a subject of negotiation in possible peace talks.
On Friday, the International Criminal Court issued an arrest warrant for Russian President Vladimir Putin on charges of committing a war crime over the “illegal deportation of children from the occupied regions of Ukraine to the Russian Federation” since the start of the invasion.
The Kremlin rejected the decision, describing it as “null and void” because Russia is not a party to the International Criminal Court.