Vladimir Putin, the president of Russia, has made a surprise visit to Crimea this Saturday. His participation is due to the commemoration of the ninth anniversary of the illegal annexation of this peninsula. Initially, the president was going to join by videoconference, but at the last moment he changed plans and traveled by land to the port city of Sebastopol.
It has been seen as a provocation after he was charged by the International Criminal Court with illegal deportation of children. State media have broadcast images of Putin visiting an art school for children and speaking with Mikhail Razvozhaev, the governor of Sevastopol.
“On such a historic day, the president is always with Sevastopol and its people,” Razvozhaev wrote on his Telegram channel. “Our country has an incredible leader,” he added hours after the Court in The Hague classified Putin as responsible for sending children from the occupied territories since the start of the war This measure would prevent him from flying over or landing in the countries attached to this institution.
A visibly limping Putin arrived in occupied Crimea
Russian sources report Putin’s visit to Sevastopol to “celebrate” the anniversary of the annexation of Crimea
Which, by the way, will be one of the items on Putin’s list of accusations at The Hague Court. pic.twitter.com/XPJDGqvT9e
— Anton Gerashchenko (@Gerashchenko_en) March 18, 2023
Images of Putin walking freely through Crimea have been interpreted as showing impunity. His behavior has not changed despite the order. And he has continued to emphasize the role of Crimea, which suddenly invaded in 2014, just after the start of the Donbas war. In addition, this visit to the peninsula is the first since the war began and comes hours before Chinese President Xi Jinping is due to visit Moscow.
Meanwhile, US President Joe Biden has stated that his Russian counterpart has clearly committed war crimes and that the decision of the International Criminal Court (ICC) is justified. And Volodymyr Zelensky, the Ukrainian leader, has called The Hague’s decision “historic.”
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