Russian President Commemorates 9th Anniversary of Crimea Annexation
Russian President Vladimir Putin made a surprise visit to Crimea annexation to mark the ninth anniversary of Russia’s annexation of the peninsula from Ukraine. Putin was welcomed by the Russian-installed governor of Sevastopol, Mikhail Razvozhayev, and was taken to see a new children’s center and art school on what was said to be a surprise visit.
The visit comes a day after the International Criminal Court (ICC) issued an arrest warrant against Putin for the war crime of illegally deporting hundreds of children from Ukraine. However, Putin has yet to comment on the warrant, and state media did not broadcast any of his remarks during the visit.
Putin Shows No Intention of Relinquishing Crimea annexation
Russia seized Crimea in 2014, and Putin has shown no intention of relinquishing the Kremlin’s gains. Despite the arrest warrant, Putin stressed the importance of holding Crimea during his visit, stating that security issues take top priority for Crimea and Sevastopol. He added that they will do everything necessary to fend off any threats.
The ICC’s arrest warrant is the first issued against a leader of one of the five permanent members of the UN Security Council. While the move was immediately dismissed by Moscow, Ukraine welcomed it as a major breakthrough. However, the practical implications of the warrant could be limited since the chances of Putin facing trial at the ICC are highly unlikely.
Moscow Dismisses ICC Warrant
The Kremlin spokesman called the ICC’s warrant “null and void” and said Russia finds the issues raised by the ICC to be “outrageous and unacceptable.” Moscow does not recognize the court’s jurisdiction or extradite its nationals, making it highly unlikely that Putin would face trial at the ICC. However, if Putin travels abroad to an ICC member country, he could face arrest.
Ukraine says it will fight to expel Russia from Crimea and all other territories that Russia has occupied during the year-long war. Putin has made it clear that he has no plans to relinquish Crimea, and his visit to the peninsula reaffirms Russia’s commitment to the annexation.
Historic Day in Sevastopol
Upon his arrival, Razvozhayev greeted Putin with enthusiasm, saying, “Our President Vladimir Vladimirovich Putin knows how to surprise. In a good way. 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.”
During the visit, Putin was taken to see a new children’s center and art school, highlighting Russia’s efforts to invest in the region. The visit was also a signal to the international community that Russia is committed to maintaining control of Crimea.